Britain could be set to host the entire Euro 2020 tournament as government ministers draw up plans for fans to return to stadiums, it emerged last night.
The tournament could come to the UK this summer as the country surges ahead of the EU in the race to dish out vaccines.
Government ministers are said to have drawn up plans to allow more than 4,000 fans back into football grounds.
Wembley Stadium is already set to host the semi-finals and final on July 11 with the rest of the competition currently scheduled to be played around Europe.
But Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has reportedly told UEFA that progress on vaccinations means the UK will have crowds back in stadiums before most of Europe – with the end of May their target.
This comes as the latest setback for the EU’s flailing vaccine rollout which last month saw Brussels launch bitter attacks on Britain and UK-based manufacturer AstraZeneca, accusing the pharmaceutical giant of reneging on contractual obligations.
Britain is reportedly offering to host the entire Euro 2020 tournament this summer
Wembley is already set to host England’s group games, the semi-finals and the final in July
Five-minute Covid test could spark opening of nightclubs, gigs and cinemas
Nightclubs, theatres and sporting events could reopen thanks to a five-minute coronavirus test, scientists have revealed.
Yorkshire biotech firm Avacta has developed a rapid test that could pave the way for the so-called Operation Moonshot, reported the Huffington Post.
The operation is a plan to reopen thousands of clubs and theatres across Britain.
The new Avacta test has more rapid and accurate results than the American devices currently in use.
Boris Johnson is already set to announce the use of lateral flow tests, which take 30 minutes, in his roadmap to reopen Britain.
But these five-minute devices could make entry to venues much quicker.
Newly-unchained Brexit Britain has now administered 24.3 vaccination doses per 100,000 people, while the EU has managed just 5.19 per 100,000.
According to The Sunday Times, as revealed by Caroline Wheeler on Times Radio, the culture secretary told UEFA that fans in Britain will be able to attend games before the rest of Europe.
The report claims government sources have said they would ‘respond positively’ if the governing body asked them to take on more games.
It is understood that crowds will be much bigger than the 4,000 allowed into stadiums last autumn.
Fans returned to grounds for the first time in nine months in November 2020 for clubs that were in Tier 1 or 2 of the government’s coronavirus restrictions.
But all games returned to being behind closed doors when the country went into another lockdown in December.
Earlier this week, Premier League chief Richard Masters outlined his confidence that fans would be able to return to grounds before the end of the season.
Last month Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said UEFA wants to hold this summer’s European Championship in one country.
Euro 2020, delayed 12 months until the summer of 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, was set to be staged across 12 host cities in 12 different countries.
But Germany legend and Bayern Munich chief Rummenigge said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin favours scrapping that plan for a single host.
Reports suggested that UEFA has no intention of cancelling the tournament because of the financial damage it would inflict.
More than 4,000 fans could be set to return to stadiums in plans laid out by the government
A limited number of fans returned to Premier League grounds at the end of last year before matches were forced to take place behind closed doors again
Scotland’s Hampden Park is also set to host fixtures at the delayed tournament.
The UEFA’s original plan for the competition to be staged in 12 different cities is looking increasingly unlikely due to the complications with travel caused by the pandemic.
All of England’s group games against Scotland, Czech Republic and Croatia will take place at Wembley.
The ticket to a return of clubs, gigs and football matches? Five-minute coronavirus test made in the UK is touted as ‘game-changer’ in unlocking live events
A five-minute Covid test made in the UK could be the key to kick-starting the return of clubs, live sporting matches and concerts.
Yorkshire firm Avacta have developed a new super-fast lateral flow test which is understood to be in its last testing stage at the Government’s top-secret Porton Down lab.
The test’s developers say it is more accurate and faster than the US devices currently in use – and it could be announced in Boris Johnson’s highly-anticipated ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown plans on Monday.
The PM is poised to allow pubs to serve people outdoors from April – although not indoors until May – with two households of any size able to meet outside.
But for the live entertainment industry, the road to normality is set to be much longer due to the high risk of transmission that comes with large crowds.
It is hoped that five-minute rapid testing – which is much shorter than the 30-minute option available currently – will be used on admission to large events.
Yorkshire firm Avacta (its CEO Alastair Smith, pictured) have developed a new super-fast lateral flow test which is understood to be in its last testing stage at the Government’s top-secret Porton Down lab
It is hoped that five-minute rapid testing – which is much shorter than the 30-minute option available currently – will be used on admission to large events (file image)
Chief executive of UK Music Jamie Njoku-Goodwin told The Mirror: ‘If approved and found to be effective, this test could be a game changer in the effort to rescue British live music and save our summer.’
But earlier this week, general secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers Steve Heap said asking for proof of a vaccine as admission will be a ‘clear and safe way’ to return to live venues – as rapid testing ‘will be very difficult to operate at the gate of a festival’.
Ministers this week urged the Government to introduce vaccine passports as a way to revive bars, pubs and restaurants in a bid to make the transition back to normality quicker.
But these have been slammed as ‘unworkable’ by countless venues who say their target market – 18 to 25 year olds – wont be able to get the jab until the Autumn.
The Government’s ambitious jab programme aims to have every over-50 vaccinated by May.
But the other 21 million adults over the age of 18 and not clinically vulnerable are not scheduled to get the jab until October – after summer season where bars, pubs and clubs are usually at their busiest.
The Prime Minister is set to announce his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown on Monday.
He is poised to allow more social mixing within weeks, providing a light at the end of the tunnel for millions of grandparents isolated from their grandchildren.
Ministers are looking at the data and a final decision on when the restrictions will be eased will be taken at the weekend.
It is thought the new plan could replace the ‘Rule of Six’ as entire families, regardless of size, are expected to be allowed to meet up in outside spaces.
From April, two households would be able to meet outdoors while gatherings of six people from six different households would also be acceptable.
Relatives who live further away from each other may have to wait a little longer for a reunion, as the future rules on travelling longer distances are still unclear. And in the case of those who do meet up, the two-metre rule is expected to remain in place for months to come.
The Prime Minister (pictured) is poised to allow more social mixing within weeks, providing a light at the end of the tunnel for millions of grandparents isolated from their grandchildren
It is thought the new plan could replace the ‘Rule of Six’ as entire families, regardless of size, are expected to be allowed to meet up in outside spaces. From April, two households would be able to meet outdoors while gatherings of six people from six different households would also be acceptable (file photo)
Welsh salons to reopen – but no luck for Brit barnets until April
Hairdressers may be able to open within four weeks – at the same time as non-essential shops – in Wales.
Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘If it is possible from March 15 to begin the reopening of some aspects of non-essential retail and personal services such as hairdressing then … that is what we would want to do.’
Hairdressers and barbers had been expected to reopen weeks after shops.
Mr Drakeford’s comments to BBC Breakfast will likely put more pressure on Boris Johnson to do the same in England.
He also announced on Friday that children aged between three and seven will return to schools from Monday, with further pupils joining by mid-March if conditions allow.
Lockdown restrictions, which have been in place in Wales since December 20, will also be slightly eased to allow four people from two different households to exercise together.
Mr Johnson is set to meet senior ministers tomorrow to hammer out the final details. The committee will examine the latest data on the impact of lockdown and the vaccine rollout, so they can decide how quickly to lift restrictions.
Cabinet will then rubber stamp the plans on Monday morning, before they are revealed to the Commons that afternoon.
The blueprint is likely to see schools return on March 8 along with more relaxed rules on outdoor exercise; the return of outdoor sports like golf and tennis at the end of next month and non-essential shops opening soon after Easter.
Pubs and restaurants may also be able to serve people outdoors from April – although not indoors until May.
Ahead of revealing his roadmap out of lockdown, Mr Johnson has also been urged to allow pubs to reopen as soon as possible.
Beer sales in pubs dropped by 56 per cent in 2020, a decrease of £7.8billion, due to Covid-19 restrictions and the lockdowns, according to British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) figures.
Emma McClarkin, BBPA chief executive, believes that pubs should reopen alongside non-essential retail once the most vulnerable in society have been vaccinated, as they have a community role.
She said: ‘The Great British Pub has always been more than just a place to drink. It is where we go to connect. It is where we go to form community.’
There are also fears over workers being made homeless as tens of thousands of pubs are small family businesses which also double up as someone’s home, the BBPA said.
Meanwhile, the co-founder of fast food chain Leon said this morning it is ‘quite plausible’ the company will not exist if the ‘weeks and months drag on’.
John Vincent told Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘About 235 businesses a week are going under. It’s not being reported, it’s not being understood.
‘We served 1million meals as to the NHS, a million meals to frontline ITU teams.
‘If we don’t exist, which is quite plausible if the weeks and months drag on, we can’t even do the basics of what we did to feed a million meals to frontline teams. ‘Businesses are at the heart of a functioning, healthy society. I would say: Produce the analysis, inform yourself and take the whole picture into account for the good of society.’