First Germany tries to ruin Brits' holidays with ban – now they want to spoil Euro's Wembley final

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Germany today demanded that the crowd size for the Euro 2020 Wembley final be drastically reduced by around 40,000 fans, citing the Indian variant.

Angela Merkel, who is already trying to ban UK tourists from Europe because of the more infectious Covid strain, is now objecting to Britain hosting 60,000 fans at the west London stadium for the semi-finals and final of the football tournament.

The intervention comes just hours before England’s last-16 clash with Die Mannschaft at Wembley which will be operating at 50 per cent capacity tonight with a crowd of 45,000.  

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer urged Mr Johnson not to be ‘irresponsible’ and follow Munich’s lead, where just 20 per cent of Euro fans have been allowed in. By this ‘benchmark’ just 18,000 would be allowed inside Wembley.

‘I think it’s irresponsible for tens of thousands to gather in close proximity’ in countries where the ‘highly contagious’ Indian variant is spreading, Seehofer told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.  

It comes as Germany seeks to pressure countries like Spain and Portugal, which rely on British tourist income, to accept an EU-wide blanket ban on UK holidaymakers to stop the spread of the so-called ‘Delta’ variant – despite Britain having the highest vaccination rate in Europe.

Nearly half of all Britons are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, while 36 per cent of Germans are double-jabbed. The AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 per cent effective against the Indian variant.

England fans outside Wembley Stadium ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match between England and Scotland

England fans outside Wembley Stadium ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 Group D match between England and Scotland

Angela Merkel, who is already trying to ban UK tourists from Europe because of the more infectious Covid strain, is now objecting to Britain hosting 60,000 fans at the west London stadium for the semi-finals and final

Angela Merkel, who is already trying to ban UK tourists from Europe because of the more infectious Covid strain, is now objecting to Britain hosting 60,000 fans at the west London stadium for the semi-finals and final 

Britain remains ahead of France and Germany in the race to vaccinate its entire adult population

Britain remains ahead of France and Germany in the race to vaccinate its entire adult population

German officials pushing hard to convince other countries to quarantine all UK arrivals – even those who’ve been vaccinated

German officials pushing hard to convince other countries to quarantine all UK arrivals – even those who’ve been vaccinated

England fans on trains down to London for tonight's clash against Germany

A can of American lager emblazoned with the England football crest

England fans on trains down to London for tonight’s clash against Germany

England fans heading to Wembley enjoy an early morning pint of lager

England fans get ready for tonight's match

England fans heading to Wembley enjoy an early morning pint of lager

But Merkel, along with Emmanuel Macron, wants EU member states to accept a blanket ban on arrivals from the UK, urging them to relinquish their border sovereignty and hand it over to Brussels.

France and Germany claim that this is because of the Indian variant, but critics have argued that it is political, fuelled by lasting bitterness over Britain’s world-beating vaccine programme and Brexit. 

Although Britain is experiencing an uptick in new Covid cases blamed on the Indian variant, it has the highest proportion of citizens vaccinated than any other country in Europe. 

But Germany has designated Britain as a virus variant risk area, meaning only German nationals or residents are allowed to enter from the UK, barring a few exceptions.

All UK arrivals, including vaccinated people, face a 14-day quarantine in Germany.

Strict travel curbs imposed by both countries are expected to dissuade many German fans from making the trip to England.

Merkel has in recent days repeatedly expressed concern about the Euro championship fuelling the spread of the Indian variant on the continent.

She has also criticised a lack of European-wide coordination on entry restrictions for travellers from risk areas.

In Germany, the Delta strain now accounts for around half of all new coronavirus cases, the head of the country’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases told a meeting attended by Health Minister Jens Spahn on Monday.

Spain and Greece were last night leading the resistance to Germany‘s demand for Europe to effectively ban British holidaymakers this summer.

EU diplomats clashed at a behind-closed-doors meeting in Brussels, with German officials pushing hard to convince other countries to quarantine all UK arrivals – even those who’ve been vaccinated.

Yesterday, both Portugal and Malta announced new quarantine-on-arrival rules for British holidaymakers.

However, they stopped short of German demands and exempted those who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, both Spain and Greece said they would not even require Britons to be fully vaccinated – insisting they would welcome UK tourists simply with proof of a negative Covid test.

Merkel used a summit in Brussels last week to try to strongarm fellow leaders into all imposing a 14-day quarantine for all British arrivals.

The issue is critical, with ministers in the UK having recently pledged to open up foreign holidays to amber list destinations this summer – which includes most of Europe.

Greece and Spain have argued against the German proposals, with Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis saying yesterday: ‘There is no tightening of the restrictions for the time being.’ 

He said his country would be ‘increasing the number of tests we are doing at the borders’, but that the plan was to continue accepting unvaccinated as well as fully inoculated UK travellers.

Meanwhile in a further direct snub to Berlin, Spanish foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said her government would still ‘welcome British citizens to spend their holidays in Spain’.

Madrid announced a slight tightening of restrictions which, from Thursday, will mean unvaccinated UK holidaymakers will have to show proof of a negative test on arrival in Spain.

But crucially, no British tourists will be subject to quarantine, a huge boost for the 18 million Britons who visited Spain annually pre-pandemic.

Since last month all UK holidaymakers, regardless of their vaccination status, have been permitted to enter Spain without proof of a negative test. It means unvaccinated holidaymakers travelling from this week to the Balearic Islands, which also joins the UK’s green list tomorrow, will now need a negative test to enter.

Portugal went further than Spain by announcing that only fully vaccinated Britons will be allowed to enter for holidays without having to quarantine on arrival.

Beachgoers crowd Santo Amaro beach near Lisbon on a hot and sunny afternoon in Portugal's Day holiday during COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic on June 10

Beachgoers crowd Santo Amaro beach near Lisbon on a hot and sunny afternoon in Portugal’s Day holiday during COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic on June 10

Tourists enjoying the clear waters of the Blue Lagoon, Comino, Malta

Tourists enjoying the clear waters of the Blue Lagoon, Comino, Malta 

Those not fully vaccinated will have to quarantine for 14 days regardless of whether they have a negative test. It will be a blow to young adults not due to receive their second jab until after the summer. It could also kill off summer holidays to Portugal for families where parents are fully vaccinated but children are yet to receive their second jab.

The rules also mean that anyone aged 12 and over that is not fully vaccinated must quarantine on arrival in Portugal.

As Britain is not vaccinating under-18s, this would also block holidays for families with children between 12 and 17 years old.

However, the measures keep the hopes of foreign holidays alive for those that are double-jabbed. And in a further boost, the new rules will not apply to Madeira, where unvaccinated Britons will still be welcome with a negative test.

Malta yesterday, however, confirmed it is introducing the same measures as mainland Portugal, ruling out holidays for all but double-jabbed travellers.

Highlighting the split among European countries about what to do with British tourists, one EU diplomat said of the possibility of a bloc-wide ban as pushed for by Germany: ‘This is something that cannot be done. They decided that it is up to member states to decide whether they will impose further measures or not.’  

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