Merkel demands caution at Euro 2020 amid Delta coronavirus variant

June 19, 2021
A videograb of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron addressing a press conference in Berlin.
A videograb of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron addressing a press conference in Berlin.

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged great caution at the European Football Championship in view of the aggressive Delta variant of the coronavirus, DPA reported.

"It's nice that now in Munich, for example, 14,000 fans can be there again. But when I see completely full stadiums in other European countries, I am a bit skeptical whether this is the right response to the current situation," she said on Friday before a joint dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin.

Macron is the chancellor's first foreign guest in Berlin this year after the coronavirus pandemic subsided in Germany.

Macron said he assumed that Euro organizers were being vigilant. "We are of course in contact with them to make sure the conditions are the best possible," he said.

"As far as our teams are concerned, the arrangements are in place. The question that will arise for the final is that of the fans."

There is speculation UEFA could move the semifinals and final from London because of the Delta variant in Britain and relevant travel rules. European football's governing body says it is confident an agreement can be reached.

The leaders of Germany and France have called for vigilance to prevent the spread of a coronavirus variant that this week prompted Britain to delay the planned relaxation of pandemic restrictions in England.

Merkel said that while Germany has very low numbers of new COVID-19 infections at present, the "aggressive" Delta variant could lead to a rise in new cases. "We can't pretend that coronavirus is over," Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

"Even though there's a feeling on such a warm summer's evening that it's all over, one can see from the example of Lisbon that things can quickly change," she said. "That's why I think it's necessary to be careful, so that we have a summer with many freedoms but not yet all freedoms."

Macron said it was important to be vigilant about the new variant and the European Union would discuss at an upcoming summit how to better harmonize travel restrictions during the pandemic something the bloc has struggled to do more than a year after the start of the outbreak.

Aside from the pandemic, next week's EU summit will also address foreign policy issues such as the bloc's relationships with Russia and Turkey, and the future of its common defense and security policy. — Agencies

June 19, 2021
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