Britain will reportedly grant quarantine exemptions to thousands of VIPs to ensure the final of the Euros takes place in London and not Budapest.
It is understood that the tournament’s semi-finals and final, which are due to be played at Wembley on 6, 7 and 11 July, could be moved to Hungary because of its more open travel policies.
From next week, Hungary will welcome visitors from Schengen zone countries without the need to self-isolate, while the UK requires these passengers to quarantine for up to 10 days, as they will be arriving from amber list destinations.
As a result of these border restrictions, Uefa’s president Aleksander Ceferin warned the government last week that other European venues could host the matches instead.
A Uefa spokesperson told The Independent that it was pleased Wembley’s capacity had been increased to 50 per cent for the knock-out rounds, adding that it was in discussions with London about a possible “strict testing and bubble concept”, which would allow travelling fans to come to the UK for less than 24 hours to support their teams.
“We understand the pressures that the government face 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,” they said.
To prevent the games from being moved to the continent, ministers are considering plans to waive coronavirus restrictions for 2,500 people including football officials and sponsors, according to The Times.
Boris Johnson is thought to back the proposal, as it could help the UK’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup. If successful, this would be the first major international football tournament held solely in Britain since 1996.
However, his cabinet will have to weigh up the potential political backlash of such a scheme, coming at a time when Britons are effectively barred from holidaying abroad.
The government has been heavily criticised in recent months for perceived failures in its coronavirus border policies, with critics blaming ministers for being slow to put India on the red list. They say this delay was responsible for the spread of the Delta variant, which was first detected on the subcontinent and is now dominant in Britain.
Speaking on Thursday, the shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth took the government to task for rising coronavirus infections. This came as the country recorded 11,007 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the highest daily figure since 19 February.
Mr Ashworth said: “The hopeless failure to protect our borders and then stamp on the Delta variant means infections are growing nationwide and restrictions have been extended causing huge economic damage.
“It’s vital vaccination is rolled out faster, but we urgently need other measures in place to break transmission such as decent sick pay and support for isolation.”
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