Soccer-Italy warns fans from England not to use travel loopholes

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Euro 2020 - Group A - Italy v Switzerland

By Crispian Balmer

ROME (Reuters) -Italy has warned any fans from England not to try to use loopholes in COVID travel restrictions to sneak into the quarter-finals Euro 2020 clash between England and Ukraine in Rome on Saturday, even if they have a ticket.

In an effort to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, Rome last month introduced a five-day quarantine for anyone coming to Italy who had been to Britain in the previous two weeks.

It made an exception for short-stay business trips and visitors in transit, but on Thursday the Italian embassy in London issued a statement saying anyone in the country under these circumstances will not be let into the stadium.

"Being exempt from quarantine in Italy for any legal reason will not translate into permission to enter the stadium," the embassy wrote. "Fans based in the UK should therefore not travel to Italy to attend the match on Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome."

Widescale checks are expected as people enter the stadium. Anyone found to have ignored general quarantine rules faces a fine of up to 3,000 euros ($3,555), the health ministry website says.

UEFA has said 16,000 fans will be let into Saturday's game -- 25% of its total capacity.

The fresh travel warning came after the English Football Association said on Wednesday that it "will not be selling any tickets via the England Supporters Travel Club for this fixture" due to the travel restrictions.

This has meant that English people who live in Italy have found it easy to get a seat.

"I am over the moon, I can't wait, it's going to be so much fun," said Dawn Hughes, 59, an infant school teacher at a British school who has lived in the capital for 35 years.

"We are in Rome and Rome belongs to Italy and the Italians but on Saturday night, its going to belong to England, well I hope so anyway," she said dancing with her England flag outside the Stadio Olimpico.

Britain is battling a surge in infections caused by the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, reporting 26,068 new cases on Wednesday. Italy, by comparison, registered just 776 daily cases.

Some Rome taxi drivers thought fans would show up from England regardless of the defacto ban.

"I hope I get other clients and not them, not to be rascist but for my health," said one driver called Massimo.

($1 = 0.8437 euros)

(Additional reporting by Eleanor Biles, Editing by William Maclean)

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