Liverpool: Mayor fears Covid-19 spike over Anfield fan gathering

Fans outside Anfield after Liverpool became Premier League championsImage copyright
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Thousands gathered at Anfield on Thursday night despite being urged not to

Liverpool will have to wait and see if a gathering of thousands of football fans will cause a spike in coronavirus cases in the city, its mayor has said.

Police and politicians had urged Liverpool fans to stay at home, but crowds flocked to the club’s Anfield stadium after they became Premier League champions on Thursday.

The club also asked fans not to travel.

Mayor Joe Anderson, who warned that such scenes would happen, said it was “disappointing” so many ignored advice.

Merseyside Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Rob Carden also expressed dismay at the scenes.

“Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout the lockdown period, not everyone adhered to the regulations in place,” he said.

“Although the vast majority of celebrations were good natured, a large number of people chose to gather outside the stadium.”

He added that “in the days ahead”, fans should only celebrate with “members of your household and in your social bubble”, adding: “As we all know, Merseyside has been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and we must all do what we can to prevent further cases and deaths.”

Official figures show Liverpool registered 544 coronavirus-related deaths up to 12 June and 1,677 cases up to 25 June.

Announcing that the city’s civic buildings would be lit red for a week to celebrate the club’s achievement, a council spokesman urged “ecstatic fans to try and maintain social distancing guidance to prevent the spread of coronavirus”.

Council chief executive Tony Reeves added that it was “vital we don’t throw away the months of hard work for a weekend of celebration”.

‘Little bit frustrating’

In April, Mr Anderson said he feared restarting the Premier League would lead to a “farcical” situation with fans congregating outside Anfield.

The club said at the time that they were “disappointed” by the mayor’s comments, while supporters group Spirit of Shankly called on him to retract his statement, adding that there was “no evidence to support the mayor’s perception that supporters will break any lockdown regulations”.

Both Liverpool FC and Spirit of Shankly have been approached for comment.

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No attempts were made to disperse the crowd by police officers at the ground

Speaking to BBC, Mr Anderson said he had “warned that I was concerned about the numbers that would turn up, not just outside Anfield but in other parts of the city centre”.

“The gathering at Anfield was a little bit frustrating where people believe, wrongly, that we’re over the worst of the pandemic.

“In the euphoria… people have decided to ignore advice, but it’s gone, it’s happened.

“We’ll have to see whether there’s a spike in coronavirus as a result of this.”

He added that it was “disappointing, in the same way it was to see the scenes on Bournemouth beach”.

“But if Chelsea or Manchester City had won the league, we would have seen the same scenes outside Stamford Bridge or the Etihad.

“We are where we are.”

The city’s council has already begun investigating the impact of the club’s Champions League match against Atletico Madrid on 11 March, which saw more than 3,000 away fans travel to the game, even though Spain was in partial lockdown at the time.

In May, the scientist leading the UK’s coronavirus tracking project, Professor Tim Spector, said allowing the game to happen had “caused increased suffering and death”, while the family of Reds fan Richard Mawson, who died with Covid-19 after attending the game, have called for an inquiry.

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