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ROME (AP) — Italy intensified its warnings to England soccer fans on Thursday to stay away from the European Championship quarterfinal match against Ukraine on Saturday, saying they shouldn’t count on getting into the Stadio Olimpico unless they can prove they have observed five days of quarantine since arriving from Britain.
In addition, the state police imposed a mandatory block on the sale and transfer of any tickets starting Thursday and the cancellation of coupons sold to British residents starting last Monday.
The measures, said Italy's ambassador to Britain, were deemed necessary because of the spike in cases in Britain of the highly contagious delta variant, despite its vaccination efforts, and Italy's fears that British visitors will spread the variant here.
“My message is very clear," Ambassador Raffaele Trombetta told The Associated Press. “Don’t go to Italy because you haven’t got time to quarantine. Even if you have got a ticket to go to the football match, that will not give you the right to go to the match.”
A similar warning was posted in English on the website of the Italian embassy to Britain, making clear that even if they have tickets, proof of vaccination and negative COVID-19 tests, fans should "not travel to Italy to attend the match.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how Italy could enforce the warning, given authorities have never policed quarantine requirements during the coronavirus pandemic and don’t put visitors in quarantine hotels, as some other countries do.
Trombetta said police would intensify border controls and hinted that Italian authorities would conduct checks to make sure visitors were indeed quarantining where they said they would on their entry forms.
Currently, Italian regulations require a five-day quarantine for anyone who has been in Britain in the previous 14 days. The statement repeated that requirement but, in a clear effort to dissuade people from coming or trying to get around it, suggested fans would be policed and prevented from getting into the stadium even if they have tickets.
“Only those who can prove that they have arrived in Italy at least six days previously, have observed five days of quarantine, and have taken a post-quarantine Covid-19 test with a negative result will be allowed into the Stadio Olimpico,” the embassy statement said, adding that even people who have legal exemptions to avoid the quarantine, such as for brief work trips to Italy, would similarly not be allowed into the stadium.
Italy, where Europe’s outbreak erupted last year, has tamed the latest wave of infections and has fully vaccinated nearly 35% of its population over the age of 12. Currently, the highly contagious delta variant spreading through Britain represents more than 17% of the new cases in Italy, but officials are warning that it will likely become dominant by August.
Associated Press visual journalist Trisha Thomas contributed to this report.
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Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press