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EURO 2020

‘Irresponsible’: Germany urges UK government to reduce Euro 2020 crowd sizes

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Tuesday urged the British government to reduce the number of fans allowed into Wembley stadium for the final Euro 2020 matches, as fears grow over the spread of the Delta variant.

'Irresponsible': Germany urges UK government to reduce Euro 2020 crowd sizes
Wembley stadium in London ahead of the Germany-England match on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

“I think it’s irresponsible for tens of thousands to gather in close proximity” in countries where the “highly contagious” Delta variant is spreading, Seehofer told Germany’s Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.

The appeal comes just hours before a last-16 clash between England and longtime rivals Germany at London’s Wembley stadium.

UEFA and the British authorities have said some 45,000 supporters will be allowed to attend the game, equivalent to 50 percent of capacity.

Attendance will be increased to 75 percent of capacity, or more than 60,000 fans, for the semi-finals and final at Wembley, in what will be the largest crowds at a sports event in Britain since the start of the pandemic.

In Germany, where Munich’s Allianz Arena has hosted several Euro 2020 matches, the capacity cap has been set at a strict 20 percent — or around 14,000 spectators.

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Seehofer said the 20-percent rule could serve as “a benchmark” to other Euro 2020 venues as well.

Britain is experiencing a surge in new coronavirus cases blamed on the Delta variant that was first detected in India.

Germany has designated Britain as a virus variant risk area, meaning only German nationals or residents are allowed to enter from the UK, barring a few exceptions.

All UK arrivals, including vaccinated people, have to quarantine for 14 days once in Germany.

Strict travel curbs imposed by both countries are expected to dissuade many German fans from making the trip to England.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has in recent days repeatedly expressed concern about the Euro championship fuelling the spread of the Delta variant on the continent.

She has also criticised a lack of European-wide coordination on entry restrictions for travellers from risk areas.

In Germany, the Delta strain now accounts for around half of all new coronavirus cases, the head of the country’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases told a meeting attended by Health Minister Jens Spahn on Monday.

READ ALSO: Germany holds back on tougher entry restrictions to curb Delta variant

Member comments

  1. I believe that all attendees at this and other large sporting gatherings in the UK need to present proof of full vaccination. Given how far behind the developed world Germany was in getting its own vaccination programme off the ground, is this a case of sour grapes to add to those already fermenting nicely because of Brexit??

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STRIKES

More than 200 flights cancelled in Germany as Eurowings pilots strike

Flight passengers may face disruption on Thursday after Eurowings pilots staged a full-day walkout in Germany.

More than 200 flights cancelled in Germany as Eurowings pilots strike

A spokesperson for the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union, which represents pilots, told DPA that the industrial action began as planned in the early hours of Thursday morning. VC called for a walkout at the Lufthansa subsidiary after negotiations for better working conditions and wages collapsed. 

As a result of the strike, Eurowings expects about half of all its flights to be cancelled on Thursday, affecting up to 30,000 passengers. 

On average, the Lufthansa subsidiary operates around 500 flights a day, carrying 50,000 to 70,000 passengers to destinations across Germany and Europe.

Eurowings plans to operate on Thursday mainly with aircraft from its Austrian subsidiary Eurowings Europe, which is not on strike, but also with aircraft from partner companies.

A spokesperson for the company told DPA on Wednesday that disruption would vary across different airports.

READ ALSO: Pilots at German low-cost airline Eurowings to strike

Airports such as Mallorca, Stockholm or Prague, which are frequently served by Eurowings Europe, are less affected by the strike.

German destinations, on the other hand, are likely to be much more affected. In Düsseldorf alone, the largest Eurowings location, 118 flights are likely to be cancelled, according to the airport. Just 60 are likely to run.

At Cologne/Bonn airport, 61 of the planned 90 flights were cancelled. The strike action is set to last until midnight on Thursday. 

Eurowings is asking customers to check the status of their flight on the Eurowings website or via the Eurowings app. Passengers whose flights are cancelled should be offered other travel options, such as travelling by train or rebooking. 

Why are pilots striking?

VC’s central demand in the dispute is better working hours and conditions for pilots. The union has argued that current agreements on working hours and rest periods haven’t been updated since 2015, and is calling for the introduction of maximum flight duty times. 

“The workload has increased significantly,” said Matthias Baier, a spokesman for VC. “The employer regularly pushes staff to the maximum permitted limit,” 

Meanwhile, Eurowings has slammed the strike as disproportionate and irresponsible.

Head of personnel Kai Duve called the demands “excessive in times when millions of people are afraid of a cold winter and the next heating bill”, adding that the action could harm the future viability of the flight operations as well as endangering jobs at the airline. 

READ ALSO: What are your rights in Germany if a flight is delayed or cancelled?

Eurowings said it was expecting “largely normal flight operations” to resume on Friday.

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