A fan zone where football supporters can watch Euro 2020 matches is “not without risk”, a leading public health expert has warned.
Professor Linda Bauld said she would prefer it if spectators heading to the event in Glasgow Green are told to take coronavirus tests beforehand – as fans must do if they are watching tournament matches south of the border.
The Glasgow fan zone will see up to 6000 people per day gather to watch matches for the duration of the tournament, which is the first the Scotland men’s team have qualified for in more than two decades.
Bauld, chair of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said opening the fan zone is “controversial” given Glasgow has only recently moved out of Level three restrictions.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf has insisted the fan zone is a “low-risk event”, but Bauld warned supporters might “lose some of their inhibitions” and “be embracing” if results go their way.
She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that if the event is “just people moving around outside, and there is distancing that is maintained, that is low risk”.
But she added: “It is all the things that come with a mass event, people on public transport travelling into the area elsewhere, using toilets and maybe other indoor spaces, and then if the matches get under way and the results are good, which everybody hopes, people might lose some of their inhibitions and they might be embracing, and that has risks.
“It is not without risk.”
Yousaf has said all those attending will be encouraged to take lateral flow tests beforehand, but Bauld made clear her personal view is that testing should be mandatory.
South of the border, Euro 2020 matches have been included in UK Government research looking at how social distancing requirements can be removed safely.
The Events Research Programme requires attendees to show a negative Covid test before entry.
Bauld said: “I do think unfortunately, given the high infection rates we still have, if that had been set up earlier on it would have given people a lot more assurance and confidence in the event.”
Her comments came after Yousaf told MSPs that Glasgow City Council will contact every fan zone ticket-holder to encourage them to take a lateral flow test at home before attending.
The health secretary said: “I would encourage every single person that has a ticket to any session of the fan zone to please test before arrival.”
Euro 2020 is being played at venues across Europe this summer after being postponed last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.