Covid Scotland: No plans for testing at Euros as measure could increase virus spread, Scottish Government warns

There are still no plans to test football fans for Covid-19 at the Euros in Glasgow, the Scottish Government has said, amid warnings the measure could increase spread of the virus.

The government has faced mounting calls from public health experts for the thousands of people who will gather to watch games in Glasgow from Friday to be tested for the virus.

But there are still no plans for this measure to be put in place, a spokesperson said on Sunday, warning that queues of people waiting to be tested may increase transmission of the virus.

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It comes after Linda Bauld Professor of Public Health at Edinburgh University, said she was “worried” about the upcoming events.

A Covid-19 test centre in Glasgow.
A Covid-19 test centre in Glasgow.
A Covid-19 test centre in Glasgow.

Her comments follow those of Dr Christine Tait-Burkard, an expert in infectious diseases also at Edinburgh University, who last week labelled the plans “a risk”, and called for fans to be tested.

Glasgow will host the Euros from Friday, with up to 6,000 football fans each day watching games on big screens in fan zones at Glasgow Green, and 12,000 fans at Hampden Park for four matches.

Prof Bauld said the event plans were risky, with alcohol to be allowed and no measures to test fans.

She told the BBC Sunday Show: “I completely understand the importance of the Euros, let's face it, everybody wants to celebrate, and this is a fantastic opportunity for Scotland.

“Most of this event is outdoors, most of it is seated. I've had a good look at the website and the details, and you can see that it would be managed.

“But the reason the beer garden is a concern obviously is alcohol. If there’s lots of people watching matches people are cheering and hugging and embracing... even if they’re outside, there are risks.

“My personal view is I would have appreciated if it might have been a bit like the events research programme, the festival in England, in Liverpool, where people had to demonstrate a negative test before they went in.

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“But it doesn't sound like that's been set up, so the decision will be taken this week, but it is not without its risks and that is absolutely the case.”

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has also criticised the fan zones, which it argues contradict the cautious approach to easing of restrictions for pubs and restaurants, and will draw trade away from struggling businesses.

The Scottish Government said on Sunday that plans may change ahead of the events if concerns grow over Covid-19.

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“Decisions about testing and other arrangements at the fan zone are taken jointly by the Scottish Government, Glasgow Life, Public Health Scotland and other partners,” a spokesperson said.

“Mass testing of people on arrival at the fan zone is not feasible and the queues which this would cause could, counter-productively, present a possible Covid risk.

“We are of course encouraging everyone attending the fan zone to take up the offer of twice weekly rapid lateral flow testing.”

They added: “If there are concerns about the safe delivery of fan zone due to prevalence of the virus then it may be necessary to review and modify these plans.”

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