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    Euro 2020 host Saint Petersburg tightens restrictions

    SAINT PETERSBURG (AFP) – Authorities in Saint Petersburg, which is hosting a series of Euro 2020 matches, said yesterday they were tightening anti-coronavirus restrictions in an effort to curb a new spike in infections.

    Russia’s second city is the country’s worst hotspot after Moscow and is expected to host thousands of football fans from Europe.

    The new restrictions will be introduced from Thursday, after Russia play Finland in the city tomorrow. Officials in Saint Petersburg have earlier said that all measures will be taken to protect fans and players during Europe’s biggest football extravaganza.

    The city’s showcase stadium, Gazprom Arena, will be filled to 50 per cent capacity.

    From Thursday, food courts and children’s play areas in shopping malls in Russia’s second city will be closed, and no food will be sold at Euro 2020 fan zones, authorities said in a statement early yesterday.

    Cinemas will be operating at 50 per cent capacity, down from 75 per cent now, and restaurants must close between 2am and 6am.

    “Guests at all public events including those held in the open air are obligated to use masks,” city authorities said.

    Many Russians are refusing to wear masks on public transport and in other public places. Coronavirus infections are once again on the rise in Russia as a vaccination campaign is stalling. At the weekend authorities in Moscow announced a “non-working” week in the Russian capital, with non-essential workers told to stay home.

    Yesterday, Russian authorities reported 13,721 new cases including 6,590 in Moscow and 865 in Saint Petersburg.

    Saint Petersburg has been selected to host seven matches – including a quarter-final – in June and July after the tournament was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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