Sports

Fan zones to watch Wales in the Euros are allowed under new rules

First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed fan zones to watch Wales in the Euros will be allowed under the new restrictions coming into place on Monday, June 7.

Although they would look very different from the jubilant, packed scenes we saw during Euro 2016, fan zones would be permitted – although the timescale is an obvious challenge given Wales kick off their Euro campaign next weekend.

The latest coronavirus review has seen the Welsh Government move to allow large, outdoor, organised gatherings to go ahead from June 7 for up to 4,000 non-seated, rising to 10,000 people if seated.

Speaking at a press conference on the latest lockdown-easing measures, Mr Drakeford confirmed the rules relating to fan zones but did touch on a lack of sufficient time to be able to plan.

He said: “Provided it is practical in the time it is available, the rules that come into place on Monday will allow fan zones to be organised, provided that they are a properly organised event and that the risk assessment is carried out depending on the size of the venue, the nature of the venue, and the number of people who will be there to staff it, and so on.

“That will draw on the learning from the pilot programmes. But, as from Monday, organised events, outdoors will be possible on the scale that we have set out and that would include fan zones.

“There is not much time to go, and given that these would have to be properly organised, then we will have to see what is possible in the time available, but if it is practically possible, provided the risk assessments can be carried out, then yes today’s decision does open the door to that sort of activity.”

Around 6,500 Wales football fans are returning to their first live football match since before the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, June 5, when Rob Page’s side face Albania in a friendly: their last match before heading to the postponed Euro 2020 tournament.

The pilot event, announced before the latest lockdown review, will see fans have to wear face coverings throughout and remain socially distanced and within their own bubbles at the ground. Any fan zones would likely need to follow similar measures to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Wales first face Switzerland on Saturday, June 12 (2pm kick-off), before facing Turkey on Wednesday, June 16 (5pm kick-off). Both matches will be staged in Baku, before Wales’ final group-stage match against Italy in Rome on Sunday, June 20 (5pm kick-off).

The top two in each group plus the four best third-placed teams will then progress to the knockout stages.

Speaking about the prospect of fan zones, Wales captain Gareth Bale said: “That would be amazing.

“As long as it’s done safely and correctly, we’d love to see that, obviously, seeing things when we’re over in the tournament looking back, seeing pictures, videos, being sent things.

“It’s always nice to see. Obviously we won’t have that atmosphere in the stadium but to see it back home will feel like that extra support that we always get.

“It’ll be nice for the fans to be able to get together and watch these big games and enjoy the occasion.”

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