Porto locals furious as Covid rules eased for Champions League final fans

Relaxation saw hundreds of maskless fans pack into local bars

Thousands of Chelsea and Manchester City fans have descended on the Portuguese city of Porto ahead of the Champions League final, however some locals fear the football match could lead to a spike in Covid-19 cases. Video: Reuters

 

A last-minute decision to relax Covid-19 safety rules for Saturday’s Champions League final has angered locals as hundreds of English fans not wearing masks packed Porto’s riverside bars on Friday night.

Uefa moved the final between Manchester City and Chelsea from Istanbul to Porto to allow English fans to travel to the match under Covid-19 restrictions.

Some Porto residents fear a spike in infections because of the highly contagious coronavirus variant spreading in parts of England after first being identified in India.

Others are upset that foreign fans can go into the stadium but locals have been banned from attending matches for months.

“If they open (the stadiums) for the English, they should open (them) for all,” said Alexandre Magalhaes, walking through Porto, which was packed with fans.

Portugal’s government initially said English fans must fly in only on the day of the match, stay in a “bubble” and fly home straight after the game.

But on Thursday authorities dropped the requirement for fans to stay in bubbles and lifted restrictions on movement.

Police broke up some minor scuffles between fans. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Police broke up some minor scuffles between fans. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

“If these (new rules) are true I will not comply with any more lockdowns,” one Twitter user wrote. Another wrote: “This is a shame for everyone who continues to comply with health rules.”

Portugal imposed a lockdown in January after a surge in cases but rules have since been eased.

Some 16,500 fans will be allowed into the stadium. Many others have come to support their teams outside.

Hundreds of maskless fans flooded the bars by Porto’s Douro river on Friday night, drinking beer and singing as police officers kept a close eye on them. There were minor scuffles between the supporters.

Although the fans breached coronavirus rules in place to reduce the risk of contagion, which make it compulsory to wear a mask in crowded areas, police officers on the ground did not enforce mask-wearing.

Police commander Paula Peneda told a news conference that authorities were expecting many English fans without a ticket in the city on Saturday but could not specify a number.

Authorities said they could not stop fans moving around because British tourists are now allowed in and out of Portugal if they present a negative PCR test.

London Metropolitan Police Superintendent Lysander Strong said two fan zones with capacity for 6,000 people each – one for each team – would be set up in the city.

A fan gets ready to throw his pint into the air. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
A fan gets ready to throw his pint into the air. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

From 8am to 6pm, the fan zones will only be open to ticket holders who will then be transported to the stadium.

The zones will then open to those without a ticket. Consumption of beer is allowed and all supporters must present a negative Covid-19 test to access the fan zones.

“We encourage all English supporters here to contribute to an orderly environment,” Strong said.

Porto Mayor Rui Moreira said the city was ready for the final despite having had just two weeks to prepare.

“Portuguese people adjust... We are quite efficient at improvising,” he told Reuters.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.