Labour's stance on travel restrictions 'not cared about' says host
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England soared past Germany with a 2-0 win this week, putting the Three Lions through to the quarter-finals. They will face Ukraine on Saturday in Rome, but will be without the loyal fan base that has guided them through the competition at Wembley Stadium so far. This is the result of strict quarantine rules in place in Italy which require British visitors to self-isolate for five days on arrival.
The differing quarantine periods around Europe have made for a logistical nightmare.
With the Delta variant now accounting for almost all of the UK’s coronavirus cases, European nations are increasingly resistant to the idea of allowing fans and visitors to freely roam their countries without having first quarantined – something that is near impossible with the games in such short succession of each other.
Added to the headache is the fact that Wembley is hosting the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020.
This will see not only an influx of fans, but players, player’s families, international TV crews and top brass from UEFA and FIFA, European and world football’s governing bodies.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said: “We’ll do what we have to do to keep the country safe from Covid — that’s obviously going to be our priority, and we’ll be talking to UEFA about what they want and see if we can make some sensible accommodations.”
Yet, it appears some members of the Labour Party have attempted to thwart these efforts, demanding that top bosses and fans from abroad aren’t allowed to “roam around without restriction”.
These were the words used by Labour MP Clive Efford in response to Mr Johnson’s assurances that he would work to keep the country safe.
While many, both outside and within the Conservative Party, have recoiled at the idea of allowing supporters of foreign nations and visitors from UEFA and FIFA freedom to roam while a pandemic rages, others have noted that to completely expel them risks rubbishing the UK’s hopes of hosting the games.
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On the football bosses and fans, Mr Efford said: “If they enter the country they cannot be allowed to move freely without precautions.
“They must be escorted to and from the games and anywhere else they may go.
“I have no objection to special arrangements being made for them to go out to dine and to go sightseeing with strict precautions in place, but they should not be allowed roam around without restriction.”
Currently, overseas fans coming in from countries on the amber list — which the vast majority of Europe falls within — have to provide a negative test before leaving their country of origin in order to enter Britain.
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They would then be required to strictly isolate for at least five days using the ‘test to release’ scheme, or for 10 days.
UEFA is not keen on holding games in empty stadiums.
It has already expressed concerns about the UK Government not allowing its staff, European fans, into the country without first having quarantined.
Memos drawn up by the governing body this month revealed how it has contingency plans in place to move the semi-finals and final from Wembley and outside the UK altogether.
It requested fans and workers to be exempted from quarantine restrictions.
Mr Johnson and his Cabinet appeared to cave in to the pressure just days after the plans were released, announcing that senior international football officials and representatives of firms sponsoring Euro 2020 would be able to enter Downing Street, and even socialise with ministers, without quarantining under special rule changes allowing them to set foot in the UK.
The Mail Online noted that the COVID-19 travel regulations came “quietly into force”.
The rules covered top executives from UEFA and FIFA, as well as “senior executives of sponsors and partners”.
This includes international TV firms, and “other relevant figures” including senior football figures and politicians from competing nations.
Downing Street said that it would not agree to anything that “compromises the safety of the public” and warned officials could be fined if rules are broken.
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