'We must not take our eye off the ball' Health chiefs urge football fans to take Covid tests before Championship celebrations

Football fans without Covid symptoms are being encouraged to take up the offer of rapid coronavirus testing before meeting up with friends and family to celebrate the sport over the coming weeks.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 3:45 pm

Health chiefs in Lancashire are urging residents to 'not take their eye off the ball' and get tested for Covid-19 before socialising during the European Championships.

Euro 2020 – which has been delayed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic – will run until July 11 and will see fans meet up to enjoy the games.

Football police officers from Lancashire will be down at Preston train station today and tomorrow helping and engaging with travelling football fans to ensure they are keeping safe.

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But Dr Sakthi Karunanithi Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council is among those urging fans to be cautious and be tested before any celebrations take place.

He said: "Cases of Covid-19 are rising fast and spreading throughout the county. That's why we must take every precaution when we socialise with others – whether that's going to the pub, visiting a friend's house or going to an outdoor event – to ensure it is done so in a safe manner.

"Testing and improving vaccination uptake across Lancashire are the biggest things people can do to help manage the current situation. We want everyone to enjoy themselves during the Euros, but we need everybody to be playing for the same side and using their Covid sense when socialising.

Jonathan Halton of Preston BID prepares for the England v Scotland match to be shown on the giant screen on Preston's Flag Market

"That means wearing masks when you’re moving around in a pub, sanitising your hands regularly and keeping your distance from others.

"We have to learn to live with this virus and work together to manage this new wave of infections. The last thing we want is more local restrictions forced upon us and through collective action, we can avoid that.

"We hope you all have a great month, no matter which team you will be rooting for and most importantly, we hope everyone stays safe."

The news comes as hundreds of football fans descended on Preston’s Flag Market last Sunday as England kicked off their Euro 2020 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Croatia.

Football officers from Lancashire are down at Preston train station engaging with fans

And the historic Flag Market will remain transformed into a UEFA Euro 2020 soccer fan zone to broadcast live England’s group games until July 11.

By getting tested, it is hoped that residents will tighten up Lancashire's defence against the Delta variant which has been spreading in the borough.

The push on rapid testing comes alongside PCR surge testing that is currently happening in Lancashire as part of a strengthened support package from the Government in response to rising cases of the Delta variant.

Cllr Michael Green, Lancashire County Councillor's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Like so many of you, I will be rooting for England to go all the way during the Euros. Hopefully we will have many exciting moments like the victory over Croatia at the weekend, but we must not take our eye off the ball.

"Testing negative before you watch the match with others is one way you can enjoy the game, knowing you've done your bit for the team. If you do test positive, you can then take the steps to isolate and avoid scoring an own goal of passing the virus on to your friends and family."

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