We are working closely with the Scottish Football Association, Glasgow City Council, Police Scotland and other partners on preparations for Euro 2020, including the four matches at Hampden park and the Glasgow Green fan zone.
The situation with the virus will be continually reviewed in the run-up to and during the tournament, with account being taken of the latest scientific and clinical advice and the local information that we get on the ground.
I understand the concerns that some people have expressed about the fan zone, in light of the hard sacrifices that everyone has made. The proposal for a fan zone is not about prioritising football over other issues; it is about seeking to cater in as safe a way as possible for fans who want to watch the matches. I give an assurance that decisions in that regard are taken carefully, with full account taken of clinical advice. The fan zone will provide an outdoor, highly regulated space in which fans may watch the matches. Although up to 3,000 people per session will attend, they will be in a large outdoor space that has a normal capacity of up to 80,000 people. Necessary physical distancing and hygiene measures will of course be in place.
We are encouraging everyone to make regular use of lateral flow tests. We are discussing with Glasgow City Council how to reinforce that message for everyone in attendance, including the fans.
I make clear that the situation with the virus, the application of necessary mitigations and the experience of the event will be monitored on an on-going basis and that any change that is considered necessary will be made, up to and including withdrawing permission should significant concerns arise.
We are just days away from Scotland’s men’s team appearing at its first tournament for 23 years—and at Hampden, of all places. That should kick-start a summer of great sport and activity, from grass-roots to elite level.
After 15 months of being locked out of events, people are excited by the prospect, but they expect things to be done in the safest way possible.
Asymptomatic testing has been an integral part of trial events across the United Kingdom, including entry to the FA cup final last month. Euro 2020 events are being advertised as taking place in a Covid-secure environment, but there is no way on earth of verifying that without knowing the Covid status of every participant. Why has the Government decided that mandatory testing is not necessary for attendance at the fan zone or the games at Hampden?
We will continue the discussions with Glasgow City Council in that regard. However, there are issues to do with mandatory testing that cannot be ignored. For example, some people cannot take a test, perhaps because of a medical condition or disability.
In addition, there are ethical considerations, which the member’s party has raised in relation to Covid vaccination certificates. Some of the same concerns apply when it comes to making tests mandatory. There are equality issues.
There are also issues to do with digital exclusion. If people have to present a text or email that confirms a negative test, that will affect people who are digitally excluded.
We have to work through such issues. With Glasgow City Council, we will reinforce the message about testing before arrival—indeed, I spoke to the council this morning. The council will email every ticket holder via the ticketing company not only to encourage individuals to test before arrival but to provide a link so that they can order lateral flow devices. I encourage every person who has a ticket to any session in the fan zone to test before arrival, please. People can order lateral flow devices to be delivered to their homes or they can pick them up from multiple sites across the country.
With respect, all the human rights and inclusion issues have been successfully resolved south of the border.
Hospitality businesses in Scotland, especially in Glasgow, have had a punishing time. They have invested thousands of pounds in safety measures only to be shut for months. The rules remain tight and businesses are not even allowed to advertise the fact that they are showing the tournament. The last thing that they want is for the progress that we have made to be undone by a third wave. The cabinet secretary can understand their concern about a temporary event on their doorstep that is able to accommodate thousands of people for 31 days straight. What reassurance will the Government give to those businesses? What additional measures will it take to mitigate the impact on them if a third wave hits Glasgow as a result of the existence of the fan zone?
Of course I recognise the concerns that have been raised by hospitality businesses in Glasgow. A range of mitigations is in place. Again, I emphasise that, although there will be 3,000 people per session, the space is large enough to accommodate 80,000. Do not think of the space as a traditional fan zone, which might have been seen during the champions league final a couple of weeks ago, for example. It is a family event. There will be areas in which families can participate. Football pitches and tennis courts will be available, for example, and there will be a picnic area in which people can sit in their family bubbles.
There is a lot of mitigation. I know that there are concerns about the serving of alcohol, but there will be table service only, for example. No queueing at bars will be allowed, and no spirits will be served on a match day. As members would imagine, all spectators will have to complete test and protect information. The clinical advice that I have received is that, with all those mitigations in place—I am happy to write to Alex Cole-Hamilton with further details of all the mitigations that are in place—the event should be a low-risk one.
I go back to my original answer. We will monitor on an on-going basis, and we will introduce even further mitigation if that is necessary. Of course, if we have serious concerns, we reserve the right to withdraw permission for the fan zone.