Unlike previous football tournaments, supporters cannot cram into pubs and bars across the country as a result of restrictions which are remaining in place for at least another month, to July 19.
Under current rules, all drinks must be served by table service only, face masks are required when walking inside and the so-called ‘rule of six’ will apply indoors at socially-distanced tables.
It means pub landlords could be punished by police if England and Scotland football fans get too rowdy – or even cheer or boo – in free houses across the country, including in London and Manchester.
The restrictions – together with rain overnight and tomorrow – could help to dampen the drama of the Friday night clash between the oldest rivals in the history of football, who will be facing off for the first time at a tournament since 1996 at Wembley Stadium tomorrow night at 8pm.
Pub landlord Leon Kelly, who owns Level One in Darwen, Lancashire, was visited by licensing officers from Darwen Council ahead of last weekend’s match between England and Croatia.
Mr Kelly, who has previously owned Level One venues in Accrington and Burnley, obtained an 18-month road closure in April to allow him to set up a large marquee at the front of his bar.
The marquee, which can seat 96 people, also boasts two big screens so customers can watch the games while enjoying a beer outside. But when the officers visited he says they told him he must stop customers from booing, chanting or cheering while watching the football to reduce the risk of passing on Covid-19.
He said: ‘I just sort of looked at them like ‘What?!” How on earth am I supposed to do that? Do I pause when someone’s about to take a shot on goal and warn everyone to keep quiet?’
Mr Kelly, who is set to open a second venue nearby, told the officers he would have ‘no chance’ of being able to stop people cheering if England scored. ‘I told them, just give me the fine now,’ he added.
It comes as thousands of boozed-up fans draped in flags and wearing Scotland jerseys were seen chanting ‘we hate f***ing England’ as they jumped into the William Shakespeare fountain in Leicester Square, while others partied hard in Hyde Park – some naked – ahead of the match.
Supporters poured off trains at King’s Cross Station today, despite just 2,800 tickets being sold to Scotland fans, after Mayor Sadiq Khan pleaded with ticketless supporters to ‘enjoy the game from Scotland’. He previously said fans would provide a needed boost to London’s hard-hit hospitality sector.
Fans react to England’s second goal from Dele Alli in the FIFA World Cup 2018 quarter-final match between Sweden and England at the Rose & Crown pub, Wimbledon
However, licensing officers from Darwen Council threatened pub landlord Leon Kelly, who owns Level One in Darwen, with £1,000 fines if football fans sing, cheer or boo
Scotland football supporters light flares in Leicester Square, central London, ahead of the Uefa clash tomorrow
A naked Scottish fan is arrested by police as they congregate in Hyde Park, London ahead of the Uefa clash tomorrow
Daily Covid cases hit 11,007 – the highest figure since FEBRUARY – as infections and hospitalisations spike by nearly 50% in a week amid rapid spread of Indian variant – despite signs outbreak may be slowing down
Britain today breached 11,000 coronavirus cases for the first time since February as the Indian variant continues to spread across the country.
Department of Health bosses posted 11,007 positive tests, up 48.9 per cent on last Thursday’s figure of 7,393 and the highest daily total since February 19 (12,027).
Coronavirus hospitalisations also spiked by 45 per cent in the space of the week, with the outbreak now starting to put pressure back on some parts of the NHS where the mutant strain is spreading quickest. There were 222 Covid admissions on Sunday – the latest day data is available for – up from 153 the previous week.
Meanwhile, deaths have more than doubled in a week, with 19 victims today compared to seven last Thursday.
Despite the gloomy figures and fears of a third wave rivalling the crises seen last spring and in January, there are positive signs the outbreak may already be slowing.
A symptom-tracking study today estimated 15,760 people are now getting sick with coronavirus each day – up only a third in a week after doubling in the previous seven-day spell. One of the experts behind the surveillance project claimed cases may even peak within the next fortnight.
And Separate Public Health England data released today revealed infections are falling in a dozen council areas of the country, including the delta variant hotspots of Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen and Bedford. Ministers have launched a testing blitz across swathes of the country to crack down on the mutant strain.
Gary Johnston, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Service Lead for Environment and Public Protection, said that as the Level One marquee is partially enclosed ‘singing and shouting’ would increase the risk of transmitting coronavirus.
‘Our licensing officers did carry out visits before the game to make sure that venues would be as safe as possible for people watching the football,’ he said.
‘People were obviously looking forward to watching England play and we wanted to make sure that all bases were covered to help people do this safely.
‘Government guidance to pubs and other similar venues states that singing, shouting and aerobic activities generate higher levels of aerosol and increase the risk of transmission further. You should consider these factors when ensuring you have adequate ventilation in the workplace.
‘Lowering background noise, including music, reduces the need for people to sit close or shout. This can reduce the risk of airborne virus emissions and transmission.
‘This would be less of an issue in the open air but the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant still makes it relevant and as this event was held in a partially enclosed marquee it was important to make sure all regulations were followed.
‘We still have a high number of cases in the borough and I am sure that venues want to do everything possible to keep their customers and staff safe. We would certainly expect a venue to consider all this as part of its Covid-19 risk assessment, and a clear failure to protect staff and customers could potentially lead to action under Health and Safety legislation.’
The Department for Business had previously said that government guidelines will not change this weekend, with a spokesperson adding: ‘Pubs should continue to adhere to current advice, including ensuring customers remain seated and social distancing is maintained at all times between different groups of customers. Public safety must remain our priority.’
Current rules set by Downing Street mean that music in a pub should be played at a low level to prevent any shouting, singing or dancing occurring over the top of it, to lower transmission of the virus.
The Government’s guidance covers any hospitality venue for that matter – so it is not just pubs, and includes restaurants, bars and similar places serving food or drink as well.
Owners and staff at venues will have to adhere to the rules and make sure punters are obeying them too. As a result, fans will not be able to sing the usual chants that would normally be part of the atmosphere found at the pub during a big football match.
The British Beer and Pub Association surveyed 1,000 pub-goers and 85 per cent of supporters have said coronavirus restrictions will ruin watching the Euros down at the local.
The decision to extend lockdown by at least another month was met with fury by Britain’s hospitality and entertainment powerhouses, who blasted Boris Johnson’s last-minute U-turn on Freedom Day saying the decision to delay will cost them billions and could see 200,000-plus jobs go this summer.
Pubs, restaurants and theatres fear they will lose tens of thousands of pounds or more in revenue for every week lockdown is extended as well as draining the public purse by using the furlough scheme due to end on July 1.
Businesses have been gearing up for a bounce-back summer fuelled by Britons desperate to return to normality – and bolstered by extra cash not spent while at home – as well as three of the four home nations playing in Euro 2020, which was cancelled last year.
Experts predict hospitality businesses are now looking at £3billion in lost sales and a further 200,000 jobs could be lost across the sector because of delay. Experts also fear that one in four bars and nightclubs without outside space could now go to the wall along with businesses whose rental holidays come to the end at the end of June.
The average number of people testing positive each day (yellow bars) appears to have stopped accelerating as rapidly as it had in May and early June, with the rate of increase (red line) now showing that there are smaller increases each day, suggesting the outbreak is still growing but not as quickly as it was
The Prime Minister has been accused of betraying his promise that England would see all Covid restrictions lifted on June 21 – and is expected to delay this for four weeks to July 19, meaning by then the country will have been in lockdown of varying degrees for 16 months.
David Page, boss of Fulham Shore, owners of the Franco Manca and Real Greek chains, blasted Mr Johnson’s last minute U-turn with just a week until the date they have spent a fortune preparing for. He said that the business had called staff off furlough ahead of the big reopening and may have to put them back on again depending how long the delay is.
‘It’ll stop us trading at full capacity. I quite understand that the Government may have their reasons for doing it but it would be nice to give people a bit more warning rather than a week and leaking or briefing various proposals’, he said.
‘To get a restaurant or a pub ready you need two or three weeks – you can’t just leave it to the last week’.
Impresario Sir Howard Panter, co-founder of theatre operator Trafalgar Entertainment, said the industry will suffer ‘significant damage’ if the final lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England is put on hold.
He told the PA news agency: ‘The reality is we have marched the troops up the hill. We have mobilised a whole industry in order to get going because we have been keeping the industry going for the last 15 months.
‘It costs money. We haven’t had Government help. We have kept it going. And now, surprise, surprise, the industry needs some income. People need work.
‘Thousands of people have been mobilised in order to work in the theatre industry, to start work from next Monday and now we are being told, apparently, ‘Oh no, it’s not that date. It may be some other date, we don’t really know’.’
He said he is clear about the ‘significant damage to the theatre industry and all related industries’.
Zoe Kernow, boss of the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, which is outdoors and was visited by the wives and partners of the G7 leaders over the weekend. Ms Kernow said they are losing up to £60,000 a week because of social distancing.
She said: ‘We have been treated perversely throughout this road map because despite the emphasis on outdoor being safer we’re being treated like an indoor venue.
‘We’re operating at 35 per cent of our capacity – which depending on ticket pricing is a loss of £40,000 to £60,000 per week. We’re coming into peak outdoor theatre season’.
Kate Harl, of the Bean Inn in St Ives, which has a celebrated vegan and vegetarian menu, says the Government needs to provide more financial support.
She said of the likely four-week delay: ‘It means we’ll be operating at a greatly reduced capacity so obviously our ability to earn is severely restricted. So the number of covers we’ll be doing will be down around 40 per cent.
‘We need to look at other ways to make money so we’ve been doing meal kits and takeaways to supplement that (loss) and we’ve been trying to cut back on our staffing as much as possible and do as much work as we can do ourselves so are working very long hours to compensate for that really.
‘It feels like we’re treading water – we’re not able to progress and make a decent profit. I feel that we’re not at risk of going under but it’s very very difficult.
She added: ‘I’m resigned to it (the delay) – but the businesses in hospitality and entertainment have to be properly supported through this. We are having to turn away people’.