NHS chief warns quarantine-free VIPs at Wembley risks 'super-spreader event'

A top NHS chief has warned lifting quarantine rules for football VIPs will risk England’s Euros clash with Germany becoming a “super-spreader event”.

Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS Confederation, told ministers making special rules for UEFA officials visiting Wembley “it’s not worth it”, as he sounded the alarm over “exhausted” health workers and hospitals “over capacity”.

Coronavirus travel regulations are being lifted as part of a “Euro 2020 invite” for some VIPs so they will not have to self-isolate or quarantine in a hotel on arrival in the UK.

Among those allowed to bypass restrictions include executive members of UEFA, members of the council of FIFA and senior executives of the companies sponsoring Euro 2020.

Robert Buckland

Speaking on BBC One’s Question Time, Mr Adebowale warned ministers spiralling waiting lists and a surge in cases of the Covid Delta variant are piling pressure on the NHS.

He said: “I am worried that we are going to create a super-spreader event.

“It’s not so much that these people are going to come into London, it’s also how that will be perceived by the people watching it… last week, one of my members declared a black alert.

“That means they are over capacity. A lot of my members are at 95% bed occupancy.

“We have 10m additional people requiring mental health support. We have 5.1m people on elective surgery [waiting lists]. We have exhausted staff.

“If you’re going to ask me whether we should risk that for a football match, and I like football… my answer is no. It’s not worth it.”

Speaking on the same programme, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said differing rules was “a contradiction”.

He said: “I’m absolutely getting loud and clear the message from the panel and indeed from others about how far we’ve all come together, and how at this late stage some things appear to be frankly, a juxtaposition, a contradiction.”

Asked by host Fiona Bruce why the government was making special rules and if he thought it was “hypocritical”, Mr Buckland added: “Look, I think I think the rationale is, putting it absolutely straight, that we want to attract a major international football tournament to the UK, and I think that they bring a lot of joy.

“They also bring, frankly, a lot of revenue for our businesses and our industries across the country, and therefore it is right that we do try and play on that stage, to use an unfortunate pun.”


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