EURO 2020: St Petersburg tightens COVID curbs as cases rise

Alexander Beglov, St Petersburg's governor, said limiting the number of fans would have no effect if masks were worn at the stadium entrance but discarded in the stands.

St Petersburg tightens restrictions as number of COVID-19 cases increases.   -  AP

Authorities in St Petersburg are tightening restrictions as the Russian city hosts foreign football fans for European Championship matches despite recording an increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

Russia has reported a recent jump in coronavirus cases while continuing to host major international events. Its two largest cities have announced additional measures to contain the pandemic.

"We are glad to welcome football fans from different cities and countries," Alexander Beglov, St Petersburg's governor, said in a statement late on Sunday.

"Unfortunately, a significant number of people were found to be neglecting safety requirements during the first public events linked to Euro 2020."

READ | Euro 2020: Finland aims to strengthen bid to reach knockout stage with win over Russia

St Petersburg, which is hosting seven Euro 2020 matches including a quarter-final, is authorised to fill its stadium at 50 per cent of capacity.

Beglov said limiting the number of fans would have no effect if masks were worn at the stadium entrance but discarded in the stands.

Municipal authorities said they would shutter most food courts, order restaurants to close between 2:00 am and 6:00 am, and limit the number of people authorised to take part in public indoor and outdoor events starting on Thursday.

Organisers of the city's fan zone said they had purchased an additional 100,000 medical masks to distribute to visitor. Catering services in the fan zone will be closed starting on Thursday but drinks will continue to be sold, municipal authorities said.

ALSO READ | EURO 2020: Ronaldo ready for 'perfect' debut in front of full house

Not all fans were thrilled by the increased scrutiny.

"I think restrictions are needed but they should be softer in the fan zone," said Andrei, a fan of the Russian team standing outside the area.

"Many foreign fans have come and they really want to cheer and take part in this event."

Ambulances containing suspected COVID-19 patients were lined up outside a local hospital on Monday, while metro officials denied entry to maskless commuters.

The new measures in St Petersburg, which reported 865 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, come a day after the mayor of Moscow said the city was repurposing thousands of hospital beds for an influx of COVID-19 patients and told residents to stay off work this week to help curb the spread of the virus.

Russia, a country of around 145 million people, has reported more than 5.2 million infections since the start of the pandemic.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :