After cancelling an upcoming Formula One Grand Prix race in Montreal due to risks of Covid outbreaks, the Canadian city will use the venue to vaccinate bicyclists and later motorists who can drive up for shots, officials announced Wednesday.
Initially, around 1,000 cyclists per day will be able to get vaccinated against Covid-19 at the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit during the weekend of May 29-30, Quebec health official Sonia Belanger told a news conference.
Motorists will be allowed onto the track to get jabs on the following weekends of June 5-6 and 12-13, she said.
“Drivers, which will be extraordinary, will be able to drive on the track and past racers’ pit stops,” Belanger added.
“I won’t pretend that the vaccinations are going to be as exciting as F1 races,” Quebec’s Health Minister Christian Dube said, but he noted that the circuit, located on Notre Dame Island in the Saint Lawrence River, is in a picturesque setting.
Dube added that it is “believed to be the first time that vaccines are offered to people on bicycles, and at a site like this.”
“We failed to have a Formula 1 race this year, but we have a vaccination race and… it’s wonderful,” Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said.
Quebec, one of the Canadian provinces hardest hit by the pandemic, has notched nearly half of the country’s 25,000 fatalities, but it also has had one of the most successful Covid inoculation drives, with about half of its population having received a first dose.
Another emblematic sport spot in Montreal, the Olympic stadium, has also previously offered vaccinations.