Minister defends letting 2,500 Uefa officials into UK for Euro matches with NO quarantine saying they are subject to ‘strict’ orders not to mix
- Government expected to let hundreds of UEFA officials into UK quarantine-free
- Comes after the Government said 60,000+ fans will be allowed at Wembley final
- John Whittingdale said the visiting officials will be subject to ‘strict restrictions’
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
Ministers have defended a decision to allow hundreds of Uefa VIPs to attend the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium without being subject to international travel quarantine rules.
Culture Minister John Whittingdale said the officials will have to follow ‘strict restrictions’ when they are in the UK, with reports suggesting they will not be allowed to mix outside of ‘bubbles’.
He insisted the Government had listened to its scientific advisers who are ‘content’ for the move to go ahead.
Mr Whittingdale said ministers had ‘measured these things very carefully’ and the Government will not do anything that could put the nation’s coronavirus pandemic progress ‘at risk’.
The Government yesterday announced that more than 60,000 football fans will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and final at Wembley
Uefa is thought to be pushing for 2,500 VIPs to attend the competition’s final on July 11 without being subjected to quarantine requirements that apply to other international travellers.
The Times said the Government is approaching a compromise deal that would require Uefa and Fifa officials, politicians, sponsors and broadcasters to agree to only attend football matches – effectively placing them in ‘bubbles’.
Many VIPs are expected to fly in and out of the country on the same day, or stay overnight in hotels block-booked for the tournament, the paper reported.
Mr Whittingdale defended the approach as he told Sky News: ‘Well, we have listened very carefully to our own scientific advisers. They are content that we can move to this next stage.
‘Yes, there will be some people coming in but they will be coming in to attend the game, they will be under the strict restrictions as to what else they can do.
‘And we have measured these things very carefully and we won’t do anything that will put our success at risk.
‘But as I say, I think we are now at the stage where we can look forward to some relaxation. If this pilot works then hopefully we can expand it in due course.’
The Government and Uefa have been engaged in talks over travel restrictions, which a UK source said were ‘positive’ and that ‘final details are being worked through’.
Earlier reports had suggested the final could be moved to Budapest, Hungary, if a deal could not be reached, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had said Rome could provide an alternative venue.
But in a statement, Uefa said: ‘Uefa, the English FA and the English authorities are working closely together successfully to stage the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 in Wembley and there are no plans to change the venue for those games.’
The decision comes as British tourists continue to face strict restrictions over taking holidays abroad.
The Government yesterday announced that more than 60,000 football fans will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and final at Wembley if they have a negative Covid-19 test or prove they are double vaccinated.
There had been reports that Uefa could move the final of the competition if agreement could not be found on allowing more fans and officials to attend the game
Mr Whittingdale said allowing more fans to attend the games was one of the benefits ‘of our success with the vaccination programme’.
He said: ‘We have been proceeding cautiously. I was lucky enough to be at Wembley last night where obviously there was a smaller number permitted.
‘That was part of our events research programme and we are now moving to the next stage where for a number of events we will increase the capacity.
‘But at every stage we are obviously listening to the scientific advice and we won’t do anything that will put public health at risk.
‘Even though capacity is going up, people will still be required to demonstrate that they have either had two vaccinations or they have had a negative Covid test.’
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