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Euro 2020: Germany calls on UK and UEFA to reduce crowds over Delta variant

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By Euronews with AFP
Players stand for national anthems during the Euro 2020 match between England and Scotland, at Wembley Stadium, in London, Friday, June 18, 2021.
Players stand for national anthems during the Euro 2020 match between England and Scotland, at Wembley Stadium, in London, Friday, June 18, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool
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A senior German government minister has called on the British government and UEFA to cut the number of supporters allowed into Wembley for the remaining matches Euro 2020 is due to host at the stadium, due to the increasing spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.

"I find it irresponsible that tens of thousands of people gather in confined spaces in countries classed at risk because of the highly contagious Delta variant" as is the case in Britain, Germany's interior and sports minister Horst Seehofer told Tuesday's edition of the regional paper Augsburger Allgemeine.

His intervention comes several hours before the England-Germany clash in the last 16 of the tournament, due to be played before some 45,000 spectators, around 50% of the stadium's capacity.

This number is scheduled to rise to 75% capacity for the semi-finals and final, some 60,000 fans.

In Germany, where Munich's Allianz Arena has also hosted Euro 2020 matches, the capacity has been limited to 20%, or around 14,000 supporters. Seehofer says the 20% rule should act as a benchmark for all other matches.

The UK is experiencing a resurgence in coronavirus infections due to the Delta variant, detected for the first time in India.

Germany has classed Britain as a risk zone affected by variants, reducing to a minimum the possibility for travel between the two countries. German citizens or residents in the country returning from Britain must observe a 14-day quarantine, including fully vaccinated people.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has again expressed her concern over the danger the Euro tournament poses in terms of spreading the Delta variant, deploring the lack of coordination at European level on restrictions to be imposed on travellers coming from at-risk countries.

In Germany, the Delta variant is responsible for around half of all new COVID-19 infections, according to reports quoting Lothar Wieler, President of the federal health agency the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

The number of new infections have however sharply diminished in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the institute announced 404 cases in 24 hours, while 54% of adults in Germany have received at least one dose of the vaccine in the country, and 36% are fully inoculated.