Authorities in St. Petersburg said Saturday they have taken the necessary health and safety measures ahead of co-hosting Euro 2020 matches as virus cases in the city continue to climb.
Russia’s second city is set to host seven matches, including a quarter-final, in June and July after the tournament was postponed for a year due to the pandemic.
“We are sure that we can provide all safety measures, we are not afraid,” head of the local organizing committee, Alexei Sorokin, told journalists during a press event on Saturday.
According to the organizers, fans will be required to wear masks during the matches and will need a negative Covid test.
The city’s stadium, Gazprom Arena, will be filled at 50% capacity.
Earlier, Russia announced that foreign holders of Euro 2020 tickets will be allowed to enter the country without a visa.
On Friday, a government tally reported more than 800 new daily cases in St. Petersburg for the first time since late March.
The same day a temporary hospital for Covid patients that closed in February was put back into operation.
Russia has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic with the sixth-highest number of cases in the world and imposed a strict lockdown when the pandemic first swept across the country last spring.
Most measures were lifted within several months, with authorities opting to protect the struggling economy and pinning their hopes on curbing the outbreak with vaccines.
Although a mass vaccination campaign started in early December, ahead of most countries, Russia has struggled to innoculate its citizens.
Russia to Welcome Foreign Football Fans Visa-Free for Euro Championships
Football fans attending this summer’s UEFA Euro 2020 championship will be able to enter Russia without a visa, according to amendments signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Thursday.
Russia’s borders have remained closed to citizens of most countries due to coronavirus restrictions imposed last spring.
Entry to Russia will be granted to all foreign citizens including stateless persons who have tickets for Euro 2020, its Organizing Committee’s press service told Interfax.
“In the current difficult conditions, the movement of people has been seriously reduced,” said Alexei Sorokin, director of the Euro 2020 Organizing Committee.
“With the federal authorities’ understanding, we’re able to open the border for those who are going to visit us in St. Petersburg for a football holiday in the summer.”
Euro 2020 had been postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Permission to enter Russia does not cancel the rules and measures that must be followed on Russian territory,” Sorokin told Interfax, including presenting a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival.
The European Championship 2020 will take place from June 11-July 11 across 11 Russian cities. St. Petersburg will host seven of the tournament’s matches: six B and E group matches and one quarter-final.