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Football could be ‘coming home’ while new rules allow some British travellers to avoid ‘staying home’


By Sabine Tyldesley

England fans are turning their focus toward Italy for the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night at Wembley. Out of the at least 60,000 fans due to visit the stadium in person, it was first expected Italy based Azzurri fans would be unable to fly to London due to coronavirus travel restrictions. However, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and UEFA has now agreed with British authorities that 1000 Italian fans will be allowed to travel to London.

They will be under strict conditions, including only being allowed to remain on British soil for up to 12 hours, using dedicated transport for travel to and from the airport and stadium as well as undergoing five-day quarantine upon return.

Meanwhile British travellers, looking ahead to ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July – the day when remaining restrictions will be lifted – are planning holidays. Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps today announced that quarantine will be waived for fully vaccinated Britons returning from around 140 amber list destinations, including Italy.

From the Transport Secretary’s statement to the Commons some details are clear: no 10-day self-isolation upon return to England from any amber country for adults who have had two COVID-19 vaccine doses and children under 18. Shapps clarified ‘full vaccination’ is defined as 14 days having passed since the final dose of the vaccine was administered. Testing three days before departure remains in place also but there will be now be no requirement to take a day eight test.

However, ahead of the announcement, the Cabinet’s Covid-O Committee met to discuss the measures – and some questions remain. For example, it is not currently clear if all UK devolved nations are in agreement on this as Shapps confirmed “decision making may differ across UK administrations”. Further, an amber list country could still turn red in future, necessitating mandatory hotel quarantine. Questions on mask-wearing also remain after suggestions domestic public transport may still require a mask. Ryanair and EasyJet quickly released statements confirming their mask mandate would remain for flights.

And while Britons living in the UK are enjoying new freedoms from 19 July, there have been questions whether UK residents of other nationalities (rather than citizens) are captured under this rule and indeed if ExPats are covered. No clarity yet on the former, however No 10 confirmed that the rule currently only applies to those given a vaccine in the UK by the NHS, making fully vaccinated Britons living abroad – who are fully vaccinated by the authorities abroad – ineligible for exemption from quarantine when visiting England.

This means, if England wins the Euros, from a week on Monday, fully vaccinated British fans (mostly those over 35 years of age) will be allowed to crowd Italian piazzas to gloat with fewer restrictions upon returning than before.