Minister defends Euro 2020 VIP bubble while UK remains under Covid restrictions

23 June 2021, 10:12 | Updated: 23 June 2021, 10:46

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A minister has defended the possibility of allowing thousands of VIPs to attend Euro 2020 matches without quarantining while numbers are still limited at weddings in England.

Although there has been no announcement on the outcome of talks between the Government, the FA and UEFA over hosting the semi-finals and final, it appears likely that quarantine restrictions will be lifted to allow VIPs to attend as part of the deal.

It was also announced yesterday that more than 60,000 fans will be permitted to attend the matches.

READ MORE: Euro 2020: 60,000 fans allowed into Wembley for semi-finals and final

READ MORE: Scotland crash out of Euro 2020 as England reach reach knockout stage by winning group

The 30-person cap on weddings was scrapped from Monday, however venues have been asked to limit guests based on the space available to ensure social distancing can be observed, and dancing at indoor receptions is banned.

Meanwhile, hospitality and entertainment businesses are still restrained by social distancing rules, with some deemed higher-risk, like nightclubs, remaining shut, and others restricted by their venue's capacity.

The travel industry, which announced a day of action on Wednesday, is restrained by government rules about quarantining on return from a foreign destination.

LBC’s Nick Ferrari pointed out to Minister for Data and Media John Whittingdale: “You can dance around a Wembley with total strangers but you can’t dance at your daughter’s wedding, or indeed you still restrict the numbers at funerals.”

Mr Whittingdale responded: “I completely understand people’s frustration and I want people to be able to dance around at weddings and go to the theatre as much as everybody else but this is a careful programme.

“We’ve identified specific events where we’ve allowed people to attend in greater numbers in order to test that it is safe... and so far the evidence is very encouraging and it is on that basis that we’ve been able to move to make further relaxations.”

Asked if it is possible to keep 2,500 VIPs in a bubble, the minister said, although a decision has not yet been reached of numbers: “We are talking to UEFA about allowing VIPs or people associated with the teams to attend, but they won’t just be able to roam round Britain freely, they will be coming in to attend a match, they will have to stay in a designated place, go to the match, go home again, so there will still be restrictions.

“We are in the position that we will be able to slowly relax, as I say we’re going to significantly relax by three times the number of people attending these matches.”

He added: “Last night for instance we allowed 20,000 people to attend at Wembley subject to proof that they’d either had vaccinations or negative tests, we’re going to expand that number for the semi-finals, it’ll go up to 60,000, still subject to those requirements of demonstration that people are not positively tested.”