Euro 2020: Covid outbreak among fans 'a risk' says minister
- Credit: PA
There is a risk that an outbreak of coronavirus cases will link to football fans watching the Euro semi-final, a minister has said.
More than 60,000 will crowd into Wembley Stadium this evening to watch England take on Denmark.
The stadium is allowed to have 75 per cent capacity tonight and for Sunday's final on July 11.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted “we can manage this risk” amid mounting concerns over infections.
Senior ministers have reportedly grown increasingly concerned that matches at Wembley could be driving up the transmission of Covid-19.
Mr Kwarteng told LBC radio today: “I think we can manage this risk but to say there is no risk, if you have thousands of people in one place. There’s always risk in life.
“I think we’re managing the risk. I’m confident there won’t be a big outbreak but we can’t guarantee that now.”
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Official figures from Scotland showed there were nearly 1,300 Covid-19 cases linked to fans travelling to London for Euro-related events in the group stages.
That included 397 people who attended the clash in Wembley on June 18, according to Public Health Scotland.
The Times reported that senior Government figures are concerned about fans breaching social distancing when travelled to matches on public transport.
Cabinet ministers were also said to be concerned about low numbers wearing masks once in the stadium and checks of testing and vaccination status being insufficient.
World Health Organisation (WHO) spokeswoman Margaret Harris said that mass events, including football matches, continue to present risks for transmission and urged fans to be cautious.
“We are tribal creatures, we’re herd animals, we love to be together, we love to do stuff together and it is part of a release of a lot of that tension and stress and anxiety,” she told Sky News.
“We at WHO are not against mass gatherings at all, but we do say when you’re in a mass gathering you must take your risk seriously, you must understand what they are and mitigate them.”
Brent recorded the highest number of covid-related deaths at the height of the pandemic last year.
The semi-finals at Wembley Stadium were earmarked as 'test events' to end lockdown restrictions.
Monday July 19 is still marked as the end of England's lockdown restrictions.
Additional reporting by Sam Blewett, PA