Euro 2020 semifinals and final present Boris Johnson with new ‘public health’ issue

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK government is talking with European football governing body UEFA about “sensible accommodations” over the staging of the Euro 2020 semifinals and final at London’s Wembley Stadium.

The semifinals are scheduled to take place on July 6 and 7, with the final on July 11.

But the three games present a public health issue for Johnson after his government this week announced a four-week extension of England’s pandemic restrictions to 19 July, in an effort to accelerate vaccinations and curb the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

Asked if the UK government would really allow thousands of fans and VIPs into the UK for the Euro semifinals and the final, Johnson said “the priority obviously has to be public health.”

“We’ll do what we have to do to keep the country safe from Covid … and you know, we’ll be talking to UEFA about what they want and see if we can make some sensible accommodations.”

The UK government was accused of mishandling the crisis in the early days of the pandemic. As the movement of people came to a virtual standstill worldwide, the UK’s borders remained open to all — a decision that some health experts said led to overwhelmed hospitals.

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UEFA ‘confident’

Wales and Scotland are the only teams playing in Euro 2020 on England’s green list of countries, which do not require isolation on arrival. All others are on the amber list except from Turkey, which is on the red list.

Travelers arriving from amber or red list countries must stay in isolation for up to 10 days.

Earlier on Friday, UEFA said it was in discussions about allowing supporters traveling to the UK to avoid having to quarantine, adding it was “confident” the Euros semis and final will be hosted in Wembley Stadium.

“UEFA is delighted that the capacity at Wembley will go up to at least 50% for the knock-out round matches,” the statement read.

“At the moment, we are in discussions with the local authorities to try to allow fans of the participating teams to attend the matches, using a strict testing and bubble concept that would mean their stay in the UK would be less than 24 hours and their movements would be restricted to approved transport and venues only.”

“We understand the pressures that the Government face and hope to be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion of our discussions on the matter. There is always a contingency plan but we are confident that the final week will be held in London.”

The UEFA statement came after multiple British media reports that the Euro 2020 final could be moved to Hungary because of issues around quarantining and Wembley’s reduced seating capacity, due to the month-long delay in the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions in the country.

The Puskas Arena in Hungary hosted a 60 000-capacity crowd between the home nation and Portugal this week and would offer UEFA the opportunity to stage the semis and final in front of a much larger crowd than the 22,500 limit in place at Wembley, although that figure is expected to increase to 45,000 for the knockout rounds.

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