HEALTH Secretary Humza Yousaf has insisted Glasgow’s Euro 2020 fan zone will open without mandatory testing taking place – pointing to ethical and equalities issues.

But Mr Yousaf warned that the facility could be closed down if virus levels rise and "significant concerns arise".

Glasgow City Council confirmed last month it would hold the fan zone event at Glasgow Green from June 11, which would allow 3,000 people to gather per day during the tournament.

Fans will be able to watch the Scotland men’s team play in their first major tournament since the World Cup in France in 1998.

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton pointed to the importance of the event being Covid-secure and warned that “there is no way on earth of verifying that security” without mandatory tests for everyone with a ticket.

But the Health Secretary stressed that “there are issues with mandatory testing that can’t be ignored”.

Mr Yousaf added: “There are some people who cannot do a mandatory test, possibly because of a medical condition or a disability. In addition to that, there are of course ethical considerations.

“There are equality issues there, there’s also issues around digital exclusion if you had to present, for example, a text or email confirming your negative test, that might exclude people who are digitally excluded already.”

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Despite the warning over digital exclusion, Mr Yousaf then stressed that “Glasgow City Council will email every single ticketholder” to encourage all those attending to voluntarily take a test.

Additionally, according to event orgainsers, all spectators will scan a QR code on arrival and “check in” to the venue using the Check-In Scotland app.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said the issues raised by Mr Yousaf “have been successfully resolved south of the border”. 

He added: “Hospitality businesses across Scotland have had a punishing time, especially in Glasgow. 

“They have invested thousands in safety measures only to be shut for months. The rules remain tight and they are not even allowed to advertise the fact that they are showing the tournament there. 

“The last thing they want to see is the progress we’ve made undone by a third wave. 

“You can understand their concern about a temporary event on their doorstep able to accommodate thousands of people for 31 days straight.” 

Mr Yousaf stressed that he did “recognise the concerns that have been raised by hospitality in Glasgow”. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton told Mr Yousaf that “people expect this to be done in the safest way possible”.

He added: “Asymptomatic testing has been an integral part of trial events across the United Kingdom including entry to the FA Cup final last month.

“These Euro 2020 events are being advertised as taking place in a Covid secure environment. But without the Covid status of every participant being known, there is no way on earth of verifying that security.”

The Health Secretary told MSPs that “the situation with the virus will be continually reviewed in the run to and of course during the tournament”.

He added: “I understand the concerns that some have expressed, especially in light of the hard sacrifices that everyone has made.

“The proposal for a fan zone is not about prioritising football over other priorities – it's about seeking to cater in a safe a way as possible for fans who want to watch the matches.

“However, I want to give an assurance that these decisions are made carefully with full account taken of clinical advice. In the case of the fan zone, it will provide an outdoor, highly regulated space for fans to watch the tournament.”

Mr Yousaf stressed that although 3,000 people will be able to gather on Glasgow Green each day during the event, the fan zone is taking place “in a large outdoor space with a normal capacity for up to 80,000 people”.

He added: “The situation with the virus, the application of necessary mitigations and the actual experience of the event will be monitored on an ongoing basis.

“Any changes considered necessary will be made up to and including withdrawing permission should significant concerns arise.”