Glasgow’s Euro 2020 fan zone is a “pretty low-risk” event, but what comes with it may cause problems, an expert has warned.
Professor Linda Bauld, chair of public health at Edinburgh University, said the event itself, which will see up to 6,000 people gather daily outdoors in Glasgow Green for the duration of the tournament, represents very little risk from Covid-19.
But she said related issues such as increased travel on public transport could be problematic.
The fan zone opens on Friday ahead of the first match of the tournament, which is the first major the Scotland men’s team have qualified for in more than two decades. Scotland’s first game is on Monday.
Prof Bauld told the PA news agency: “The event itself outside is pretty low risk.
“It’s the stuff that goes along with it – the public transport, the gathering inside if people want to etc.”
The comments came after Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch urged fan zone attendees to test themselves for coronavirus before they arrive – a plea Prof Bauld agrees with.
“People, just order these lateral flow tests,” she said. “We’ve been asked to do it, so let’s just do it.”
The latest figures show Glasgow City had 198 cases of the virus newly reported on Friday, the highest in Scotland.
Across Scotland, 1,104 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours – the highest since mid-February – but no deaths.
It means the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic stands at 244,714 with 7,679 deaths under the daily measure.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Friday, Prof Leitch said the fan zone is a “gateway event” as part of the move out of lockdown.
He said: “I think they’ve done a good job. It’s not zero risk, the fan zone cannot be zero risk.
“The only way to take away all of the risk of Covid is to lock the city down, not let any crowds in the fan zone or the stadium.
“That’s not what I think the pandemic stage we’re at suggests.”
He said gaining entry to the fan zone will not require evidence of vaccination or a recent negative test, however testing is “very, very recommended”.
Making the tests mandatory could lead to people “gaming” or cheating the system, he said, arguing persuasion is a better way forward.
Prof Leitch said: “We’re trying to see if we can mail (tests) out to some of the people who will have tickets.
“In the meantime there will be a testing centre at the fan zone if you haven’t managed to do it.
“But please, please, please do it before you go.”
Officials from several organisations involved in the fan zone met on Thursday, he said, and a group of public health advisers will be monitoring data from the site.
Prof Leitch said: “We said in the meeting yesterday, all of us agreed – it’s not a Scottish Government thing, it’s a partner thing – that if it goes badly there will have to be a reverse gear.”
But Prof Bauld admitted the fan zone was “bad timing”, given that other members of the public can’t attend their children’s nursery graduation or have more than 50 people at a wedding or funeral in Glasgow.