Officials are doing “as much as we possibly can” to accommodate the European football championship after it was reported the government is to allow thousands of VIPs into England without the need to quarantine to stop the final being moved from Wembley to Budapest, a minister has said.
The proposal would exempt about 2,500 Uefa and Fifa officials, politicians, sponsors and broadcasters from the quarantine restrictions faced by other travellers, according to the Times.
The government announced a four-week delay to the final easing of lockdown restrictions in England on Monday to allow more people to be vaccinated to combat the Delta coronavirus variant.
The only teams playing in Euro 2020 on England’s green list of countries that do not require isolation on arrival are Wales and Scotland.
All others are on the amber list bar Turkey, which is on the red list. Travellers arriving from red list countries must stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days while those from amber list countries must self-isolate at home for 10 days, although they can get released from quarantine early if they pay for a private test, at least five days after arrival, and it comes back negative.
Speaking to reporters in Kirklees, Boris Johnson said: “We’ll be talking to Uefa about what they want and see if we can make some sensible accommodations, but the priority obviously has to be public health.”
Asked how it would be fair for VIPs to have a different set of rules from the general public, the policing and crime minister, Kit Malthouse, said: “I haven’t seen the detail of that particular proposal. One of the things we are trying to do though is obviously accommodate the Euros as much as we possibly can.
“And while much of the concern around coronavirus regulations has been about whether one situation is fair compared with another situation, what we’re generally trying to do is make difficult decisions about the path of a virus, at the same time as trying to enable the ordinary operation of very special events like the Euros.
“No doubt, health professionals and the immigration professionals at the Home Office and then the senior ministers who make a decision will take all of that into account as we proceed.
“Look, it’s a great competition, we’re very lucky to have it, we’re trying to make it happen with as much kind of satisfaction all round as we possibly can and that will be taken into account in the decision over the next few days.”
The Times reported that ministers were concerned that if they did not relax the rules the semi-finals and final would be moved to Hungary, which will have no border restrictions for travel within the Schengen zone from next week and would host the games with full stadiums.
It said VIPs would also be allowed to attend matches at Wembley during the knockout phase of the tournament as well as training sessions and meetings with the UK government.
Uefa said on Friday that it was in discussions about allowing supporters travelling to the UK to avoid having to quarantine.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
“We understand the pressures that the government faces 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 all-English Champions League final was held in Portugal last month after discussions about bringing the match to Wembley came to nothing because the UK failed to offer the quarantine exemptions Uefa had requested for the game.