London police warned England fans on Saturday not to gather in large numbers in the British capital for Sunday’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley, with nationwide virus restrictions still in force. The Metropolitan Police said it will enforce the months-old rules — finally set to be lifted on July 19 — “proportionately and as appropriate” as it urged those without a match or fan zone ticket, or bar booking, to stay away.
“I urge people not to gather in large numbers,” the Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said in a statement on the eve of England’s first appearance in the final of a major tournament in over half a century.
“If you don’t have tickets to the matches, fan zone or (aren’t) officially booked into a pub, bar or club my message is clear: please do not come to London — you could end up missing the game.”
Wembley is preparing to welcome 65,000 fans to the Sunday evening final, the biggest football crowd in Britain since the pandemic began last year.
Some towns and cities across England are hosting socially distanced fan zones, including in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Meanwhile pubs and bars — which must still operate under special Covid-19 rules requiring table service only — are expected to be full to their reduced capacities.
Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already signalled he intends to ease all remaining restrictions in just over a week’s time, virus rates are once again surging nationwide driven by the highly contagious Delta variant.
Johnson argues the country’s successful vaccination campaign, which has jabbed nearly 87 percent of adults with a first dose and two-thirds with two shots, has severed the link between the virus and hospitalisations and deaths.
But many scientists are deeply uneasy with relaxing all remaining rules, including social distancing and the legal requirement to wear masks on public transport and in indoor spaces.
Despite the pushback, Johnson is set to formally confirm the easing plans on Monday — a week ahead of the relaxation.
In the meantime, the Met said people must continue to comply with the regulations regardless of the occasion.
“London still remains in a public health crisis,” Taylor said.
“There are government guidelines in place and we ask people to follow these and remain socially distanced.”
He added the force had “a significantly enhanced policing operation” planned for the final, with a large number of officers and specialist units in place “to prevent crime and disorder and respond to any incidents”.
Topics mentioned in this article