The upcoming European Championship final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on Sunday has all the makings of a tight and tense title match. While the two teams have faced each other each other 27 times with wins and draws on both sides, England had suffered tournament-ending losses in both the teams' previous Euro encounters. But as the date of England's first finale match draws near, common sense and self preservation appear to be lost concepts.
On Saturday, netizens came out in droves to slam England fans who had taken to the streets in celebration after the team's historic semi-final match. Thousands were photographed leaving Wembley Stadium or celebrating with others in public spaces. The visuals show jam packed crowds with next to no social distancing and masks were conspicuous in their absence.
England supporters arrive to watch the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between England and Denmark at Wembley Stadium in London on July 7, 2021. | Photo: AFP
A photo gallery put together by The Guardian shows supporters celebrating goals from various parts of the country as they watch the match live. A now viral image from the stadium shows an aerial view of what appears to be at least a few thousand fans crammed into a stretch of the road. Photos from various parts of London including Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and West End also paint a similar picture.
Needless to say, netizens are not happy. And in the case of desi Twitter, the comparisons to similar events in India (and the international reaction) was soon a bone of contention. "No, this is not Kumbh Mela. It is street celebrations after UK entered the EURO 2020 final. But COVID-19 is clearly a thing of the past in Europe, yeah?" tweeted one irate netizen sharing the image of England fans leaving Wembley Stadium.
While COVID-19 cases in the UK continue to remain high, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said earlier this week that the administration was moving ahead with relaxations. Most COVID-19 restrictions are set to end on July 19 as part of the final step of England's roadmap out of the lockdown. This will be confirmed on July 12.
The decision would mean an end to the directive for people to work from home where possible, ensure one-metre plus social distance at gatherings and wearing face masks in all indoor settings. It is pertinent to note that Britain's case load has risen in recent days, with this week's numbers rising above 30,000 for first time since January.
Over 100 scientists and medics, including Indian-origin experts had issued a joint letter on Thursday, warning the UK government against the "dangerous and unethical" experiment of ending all legal lockdown restrictions.
(With inputs from agencies)