Ministers have sparked uproar after allowing Iceland’s national football team to swerve the UK’s travel ban on people coming from coronavirus-hit Denmark.
Iceland’s squad has been given special dispensation to fly from Copenhagen for next Wednesday’s Nation’s League fixture against England at Wembley.
Non-British nationals travelling from Denmark have been barred from entering the UK following a Covid-19 outbreak in Danish mink farms.
But the Government this evening announced it has granted a ‘limited exemption’ for the players to travel from Copenhagen where they will first face off against Denmark.
A statement from the Department of Transport justified the exemption as ‘reducing disruption’ to England’s Nation’s League fixtures.
Yet the decision spurred a backlash from people more concerned with the recent flare-up of Covid-19 in Denmark, where minks transferred the virus to humans.
Iceland’s squad has been given special dispensation to fly from Copenhagen for next Wednesday’s Nation’s League fixture against England at Wembley (reverse fixture pictured)
Non-British nationals have been barred from entering the UK from Denmark. More than 17million mink are being purged and dumped in mass graves in Denmark
The decision spurred a backlash from people more concerned with the recent flare-up of Covid-19 in Denmark, where minks transferred the virus to humans
Football fans lashed out at both the Government and the FA for allowing the match to go ahead.
One, Dave Thompson, tweeted it was a ‘totally stupid decision’ that is ‘putting the players and staff at risk’.
Another, Mike Pinkerton, said: ‘Daft bringing Iceland over for a meaningless friendly with what’s happening in Denmark. Should have just scrapped it.’
Another weighed in: ‘Yeah, I guess the virus will know not to transmit to anybody since it’s for a football match. Why on earth are we still playing international football?’
Only today did the Government announce it would be extending the travel ban for Denmark for a further 14 days.
The action was taken on November 7 after the spread of coronavirus in mink was found to be a mutated strain of the disease, sending alarm bells ringing in Whitehall.
British nationals are allowed to return but must undergo 14 days mandatory self-isolation.
In a sign of the seriousness of the outbreak, Denmark has culled more than 17 million mink and dumped the corpses in mass graves.
Earlier this week Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned the new Covid-19 variant — called Cluster 5 — could have ‘grave consequences’ if it becomes widespread.
Such stark concerns fuelled the bewilderment on social media as to why the Government and FA are allowing the Icelandic team to travel from the Danish capital.
The Government said: ‘This temporary and extremely limited exemption will allow the relevant players and essential staff support to be exempt from the new requirements and will help reduce any disruption for England’s upcoming Nations League fixtures.’
An FA spokesman added: ‘We are pleased to confirm that following discussions with the relevant authorities next Wednesday’s UEFA Nations League fixture against Iceland will go ahead at Wembley Stadium.’
Only today did the Government announce it would be extending the mandatory quarantine period for those travelling from Denmark for a further 14 days
Before the decision was made by the Government, the FA released a statement outlining the plans they had to accommodate Iceland travelling from Denmark, irrespective of the ban on visitors from the restricted country.
The FA statement read: ‘While in Denmark they (the Icelandic national team) will have been under strict Uefa protocols in a sporting bubble and will be PCR tested before travelling to England. The PCR test picks up the Cluster 5 variant.
‘We have agreed with the Icelandic team that they arrive on private charter to a private terminal and will only have access to their hotel and the stadium.
‘We will also put in place additional testing over and above the multiple tests normally required for each participant and staff at the match.’
England travelled to Iceland in September for the Nations League fixture, which the Three Lions won 1-0.
But the win was eclipsed by Covid rule-breaking by England star Phil Foden who slept with an Icelandic 19-year-old during the trip and was sent home in disgrace.
List of travel corridors where you can travel without having to self-isolate on return to England
From 4am Saturday, November 14, you can travel to England from these destinations without having to self-isolate for 14 days
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Antigua and Barbuda
British Antarctic Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
The Canary Islands
the Channel Islands
Greek islands: Corfu, Crete, Kos, Rhodes, Zakynthos
the Isle of Man
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
St Kitts and Nevis
St Pierre and Miquelon
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates