Should the Glasgow fan zone be shown the red card? - Paul Wilson

Yesterday's announcement that Covid test kits will be sent to 17,000 spectators attending Glasgow’s Euro 2020 fan zone is welcome, but it comes too late and does not go far enough.

Supporters inside the Glasgow Green fan zone as Italy defeated Turkey 3-0 in the opening game of Euro 2020. Picture: John Devlin
Supporters inside the Glasgow Green fan zone as Italy defeated Turkey 3-0 in the opening game of Euro 2020. Picture: John Devlin

With the tournament having started on Friday, thousands of fans had already gathered at Glasgow Green to watch the first matches while ignorant of whether they were carrying the disease.

Touring the site yesterday, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf gave the clearest signal yet that restrictions in Scotland will not be lowered to level zero, as planned, on 28 June. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to give an update on the restrictions tomorrow.

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In England, plans for 21 June to mark "Freedom Day" are in doubt, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson today expected to delay the final stage of easing controls by up to four weeks amid a surge in cases of the Delta variant first identified in India.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Nervtag group that advises UK Government ministers, said it was clear a "substantial" third wave is on the way and that lifting restrictions too quickly risks "fanning the flames".

Against this backdrop, the Scottish Government s decision to persevere with the fan zone, albeit with some precautionary measures in place, seems questionable at best.

All the matches are being screened live on the BBC or ITV, so anyone with a television can easily enjoy the tournament from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

For those who want to watch the games alongside other fans, the centre of Glasgow has no shortage of pubs.

The city's long-suffering hospitality sector, which has endured the heaviest restrictions in the UK, would welcome the trade of the 17,000 supporters booked in for Glasgow Green.

Parents unable to attend their children's nursery and school graduation days and sports days will understandably wonder why these cherished and relatively small-scale occasions are prohibited while the fan zone remains in place.

In belatedly responding to growing public health concerns by issuing testing kits, the Scottish Government has demonstrated some willingness to change its stance on the fan zone. It should now go further and close it down altogether.