Italy coronavirus quarantine lockdown raises production, sport fears

Motorcycle production in Italy looks set to grind to a halt after authorities introduced a huge quarantine zone affecting 16 million people

Aprilia Mugello All Stars

Production of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi motorcycles remain unaffected despite Italian authorities initiating a major lockdown of its northern regions in an effort to stem the spread of a coronavirus.

The virus, known as COVID-19, has spread globally in recent weeks but has had a particularly major effect in Italy after reporting the fourth highest number of cases globally behind only China – where the outbreak began – South Korea and Iran.

With deaths related to the virus soaring over the weekend by 133 to 366 and the number of infections jumping 25% to 7,375 cases, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ruled the closing of schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues in Lombardy and 14 other provinces across northern Italy.

Including the cities of Milan and Venice, the quarantine zone affects around 16 million people, with travel out of the region only being permitted in special circumstances.

In motorcycling terms, this has a broad effect with a number of factories and bases located within northern Italy, considered the industrial heart of the nation.

Among those brands within the original lockdown zone include Piaggio brands Aprilia in Noale and Moto Guzzi in Lake Como, plus MV Agusta in Schiranna. Piaggio has told Visordown that production remains unaffected for the time being.

UPDATE: The Prime Minister has since extended the lockdown to the entirety of Italy

Perhaps more pertinently for Italy’s industry is the expected slowdown of motorcycle sales in reaction to the increasingly strict measures. Recently forecasts are bracing for a 20% slide in sales as increasing isolation relating to coronavirus bites.

The quarantine is also expected to continue affecting motorsport with a number of teams, riders and personnel – including Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory and Aprilia Racing - based within this zone.

With MotoGP already forced to cancel its first race in Qatar and postpone round two in Thailand, the concern is now the quarantine will stop anyone still inside the zone from travelling to the new proposed opener in Austin on 3-5 April. As it stands, no-one can leave the region until April 3.

It is possible MotoGP will attempt to adopt a similar strategy to that of Formula 1, which will go ahead but only if it is chartering in direct flights and they will undergo checks on arrival. Even so, Italian personnel would have likely left the country before the new measures were put into place, making it unclear whether MotoGP could follow suit or whether other nations would be willing to allow it.