Portsmouth's public health boss calls for football fans to celebrate England's Euros clash with Ukraine sensibly and not cause a new coronavirus spike
FOOTBALL fans are being urged to celebrate England’s crunch Euro clash today responsibly amid fears over creating a new spike of coronavirus infections.
The plea was issued by Helen Atkinson director of public health at Portsmouth City Council, ahead of the Three Lions’ clash against Ukraine in Rome tonight.
Hundred of punters are expected to pack into boozers and back gardens across the area to cheer on Gareth Southgates’ men in their last-eight match,
But the celebrations come amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the area, with infection rates having increased almost fix-fold since the start of June from 25.1 per infections per 100,000 people to 149.4 yesterday.
Ms Atkinson said: ‘People want to enjoy Euro 2020, have a good time and celebrate the successes of their team, but I really want everyone to do this safely and I don’t want to see a huge spike in case across our city after every game.
‘Even though many people have had the vaccine, not everyone has. Anyone can catch and spread the virus, even if they've had the vaccine, and getting coronavirus not only makes many people poorly, but there is the potential to get long-Covid.
‘Everyone can continue to protect themselves and other by following the rules and doing the things we know help stop the spread.’
Ms Atkinson has said the ‘safest place’ to watch the match with friends is outside, where up to 30 people can meet.
She said: ‘Covid-19 spreads quickly through close contact, so save the celebratory hugs for your nearest and dearest - those in your bubble - remember we want football to come home, not Covid.’
Those going to pubs should check in with the NHS Covid-19 app, she said.
Meanwhile, those watching the game indoors at home should still stick to the rule of six, keeping windows and doors open to let fresh air in.
And everyone is urged to take a free, rapid lateral flow test before meeting with friends – with free home test kits still available at pharmacies across the city.
‘Remember hands, face, space, fresh air, and if you have symptoms, no matter how mild, stay at home, self-isolate and book a PCR test online or by calling 119,’ added Ms Atkinson.
‘I'd urge all pubs and venues hosting customers to watch the game on Saturday to make sure they have their QR codes clearly visible and follow the guidance to ensure social distancing can be maintained - I know it’s difficult when emotions run high, but we don’t want to see outbreaks across the city next week.
‘I really do hope all football fans can enjoy the game while staying safe.’
It was a sentiment echoed by Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, Donna Jones.
Speaking to The News last night, Mrs Jones said: ‘It’s great news that England have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Euros and we know that the country is going to fully get behind the team.
‘However, when large amounts of alcohol are consumed there are often issues with violence, particularly domestic violence.
‘I would urge anyone who is concerned for their, or someone else’s, safety to contact the police.