Merkel, Macron urge vigilance over virus risk at Euro 2020

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BERLIN, June 19, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday urged caution in allowing fans to
crowd Euro 2020 stadiums while the coronavirus pandemic still posts major
risks.

“We can’t act as if corona were over” despite dropping infection rates in
much of Europe, Merkel told reporters when asked about plans for the upcoming
matches.

“You can see based on the example of Lisbon how quickly things can change,”
referring to a recent resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the Portuguese capital.

She noted that fully vaccinated people were still in the minority in most
European countries “which is why caution is still necessary”.

Merkel said that applied in particular to “big events”.

“In Munich for example you had 14,000 fans (for the Germany-France match on
Tuesday)” under strict hygiene rules, she said.

“But when I see fully packed stadiums in other European countries, I am a
little sceptical whether that is the right thing in the current situation.”

Hungarian and Portuguese fans returned to a packed football stadium
Tuesday, the Puskas Arena in Budapest — the only Euro 2020 tournament venue
not to limit fan capacity as a Covid-19 health precaution.

Macron, Merkel’s first foreign guest at her chancellery since pandemic
shutdown measures were imposed, said he was confident that organisers of the
tournament were “very vigilant”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said his priority was
keeping the “country safe from Covid”, as a source confirmed to AFP that UEFA
was keeping the option open of moving the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final
from Wembley to Budapest.

The French president said in light of the reports that “we’ll have to keep
an eye on things” for the teams and fans, particularly in view of the rapid
spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus in Britain.