Ahead of the European Championship next month, FSA Cymru’s Paul Corkrey has kindly answered some common questions that crop up from Wales fans looking to follow the team to Baku and through the remainder of the tournament.
Please note: This article is subject to revisions as Government advice changes. It was last updated on Thursday 20th May 2021.
Part I – Travelling to Baku & COVID-19 restrictions in the capital
What is the situation to date about leaving the UK?
Paul Corkrey: Currently, the Government advises against travel to countries on the red or amber list. Following more discussion within the British government with stronger calls advising people not to travel to amber countries there is a possibility that FSA Cymru may have to withdraw the Fan Embassies from travelling. That is dependent upon further guidance from the Government. It is still not illegal to travel to amber countries and individual fans must make their own decision based on the information available and their own risk assessment.
If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy or Azerbaijan based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risk, how does it affect Welsh fans?
PC: If a country is on an amber list, the advice from governments is that you should not travel unless you have a valid reason. Azerbaijan and Italy are on the amber list.
If you do travel, you also need to ensure you have the appropriate travel insurance as many will not offer cover against FCO advice. There are some companies which do but you need to check what is and is not included on their coverage. Please contact your travel insurer to clarify that you are still covered. If you are not, shop around and find a company that covers you to travel to amber zone countries.
The majority of travelling fans will have to take connecting flights to Baku – are there any quarantine restrictions or regulation within airports?
PC: At the moment a negative PCR test, a maximum of 48 hours before your departure or arrival, has to be presented by all who travel to and from Azerbaijan. The certificate must show the negative test result with the date of test within 48 hours of arrival at Baku, irrespective of the country you’re travelling from. However, with your Euro 2020 ticket you do not have to quarantine for 14 days.
We also recommend that you do not travel through a red zone country. If you do, the following applies: When you arrive in the UK you need to follow the rules for the highest risk country or territory that you have been in or passed through in the previous 10 days. That can include transit stops. A transit stop is a stop where passengers can get on or off the same part of the transport in which you are travelling. It can apply to ships, trains, or flights. Your ticket should show if a stop is a transit stop. The rules of a country or territory that you make a transit stop in could apply if new passengers get on and are able to mix with you OR if you or other passengers get off the transport you are on and mix with other people, then get on again.
Making a transit stop would not affect what you have to do on arrival in England if, during the stop, no new passengers, who are able to mix with you, get on OR no-one on-board gets off and mixes with people outside OR passengers get off but do not get back on.
Do I need a visa and how much will it cost?
PC: Yes – you will need a visa. You can only get a visa at Baku airport with proof of Euro 2020 ticket and a flight out of Baku. The cost of this is $26.00, payable in cash, credit or debit card. All cash should be clean and unmarked bills. You can now apply online with certain conditions through the official website.
How much is a COVID-19 test in the UK and how long does it take?
PC: You need to take a PCR test before you travel to Azerbaijan with the results being received no longer than 48 hours in advance of your departure. You also have to pre-book two PCR tests BEFORE your travel ready for when you return home from amber list countries. These PCR tests would then be taken on day two and day eight of your return back to the UK. The Welsh Government does not allow for the five-day test-to-release early from quarantine test. Current PCR prices vary from £60 – £129.99. The NHS tests are not allowed to be used.
Can I fly to Georgia or Russia and then drive into Azerbaijan? Or do we have to fly direct to Baku?
PC: Travel by air is the only option at the moment. We are seeking clarification from authorities about borders being opened for Euro travellers. We will keep you updated if there are any changes.
Do I need to have both vaccinations to fly?
PC: No, Azerbaijan has waved this for Euro 2020 ticket holders only.
Will there be a facility for COVID-19 testing for travelling fans ahead of their return to their home nation or onto Rome?
PC: As fans need to take a PCR test before departing Azerbaijan there will be additional testing. We will update locations in the next few weeks. There will be additional testing available at grounds – a list of laboratories accredited by the State Health Agency (TABIB) can be found at: Azerbaijan Airlines’ (AZAL) website.
What is the procedure if a supporter tests positive on departure at Baku?
PC: If a supporter tests positive, they will be taken by security to a government approved hotel and put in a room for 14 days. All accommodation and meals must be paid for by the supporter. After the 14 days, you will have to produce a negative COVID-19 test before you’re allowed to travel. If that test comes back positive, another 14 day quarantine starts.
Following conversations with Baku officials, the costs have been reduced to £60 per day which includes two meals. After day five you will have a PCR test, and if negative, you can leave. However, if it comes back positive you will have to stay with further tests on day seven and nine of the quarantine.
What is open in Baku?
PC: All restaurants, bars and public spaces are fully open. However, the city’s metro remains closed.
Will there be plenty of affordable accommodation available for fans?
PC: All hotels are open and operating as usual.
What transport arrangements are in place to the stadium on matchday?
PC: There will be free shuttles on MD for fans from different points in the city centre (28th May and Qara Qarayev station) as well as from “Fan Meeting Points”. The Metro is currently not functioning, but if it does re-open supporters will be able to take the metro line to Koroglu station, which is about a ten to 15 minute walk from the stadium.
What are the restrictions and regulations in stadium? Will we have to wear masks?
PC: There will be no staggered entry times, but supporters will have their temperatures taken. Anyone with a temperature above 37.5˚C will be taken to an isolation unit and tested 30 minutes later. If their temperatures is still high, they will be swabbed for a rapid PCR test.
Everyone entering the stadium will be required to wear a face mask and adhere to proper social distancing – keeping 1.5m away from others. Disinfection tools will be installed at all entrances to the stadium as well as in the toilets and concourses. Gates for ingress will be opened three hours before kick-off. During the egress if needed stop-go points will be used to avoid crowding towards the transport.
Will there be a ‘fan zone’ in Baku for those who don’t have tickets?
PC: There won’t be a fan zone but there will be two assigned “Fan Meeting Points”.
How do I get into the ground?
PC: The main stadium entrances for Wales fans are south entrance – mainly for those coming from the metro side with 69 searching line available, and the north entrance – mainly for those coming from P22 parking with 65 searching lines available. Also, we will have the East entrance for commercial quests coming from P4 parking and 11 Vehicle Screening Areas in P2 area mainly for VIP guests, media etc.
Do I have to wear a mask indoors or out-and-about in Baku?
PC: It is compulsory to wear a face mask indoors and outdoors in Baku – and fines for not wearing a mask start at 100 AZN, which is around £42 – but they can increase. The only exemption as of last week was when sitting at a socially-distance bar or restaurant – face masks can be removed then.
Part II – Ticketing
Can we re-purchase tickets we have previously sent back?
PC: No, returned tickets are not available for re-purchase. However, if ticket can be purchased and UEFA permits this to happen then it will be only be via online sales or in Baku at the ticket points. You should not have got into Baku without a match ticket due to visa conditions. UEFA has announced that after the refund process has been completed they will put any remaining tickets for Baku on sale.
What has happened to my ‘Follow Your Team’ tickets?
PC: These have now all been cancelled by UEFA and you will have a refund shortly. Tickets for the three games against Switzerland, Italy and Turkey remain valid.
If I decide late that I cannot attend and still have the first round tickets, can I change the name on the tickets?
PC: You can change names of different tickets in the UEFA App Portal, However, if you have booked multiple tickets, the main ticket holder cannot be renamed.
UEFA’s T&Cs: “Change of ticket holder: in the event that a ticket holder (main applicant or guest) is unable to attend the relevant match for medical reasons (including but not limited to medical reasons in the context of COVID-19), the main applicant is entitled to transfer such ticket to a friend or family member. The personal details of the new ticket holder must be provided before the match. No immediate action is required. Instructions on how to proceed will be provided closer to the tournament in 2021.”
Due to group tickets not being included in the refunded ‘Follow Your Team’ allocation, Welsh fans will still have possession of the Italy ticket. How will that now work if there is a 25% capacity at the stadium? Will Welsh fans be allowed access now that there may not be enough seats available?
PC: At the moment we don’t know. We’ve put the question to the Welsh FA (FAW) and are awaiting a reply!
If it is a ballot method for the Italy game how soon can we expect this to happen? Fans will need to know in order to plan their travel and accommodation.
PC: This is not known, the FAW are awaiting a reply from UEFA to confirm the exact details. This will not be until after they have completed the refund process for all fans for the knockout and group stages that were returned by fans in the last refund window.
As far as we are aware they will implement the ballot if demand still exceeds availability but will use our loyalty system to do that. All participating national associations had the option to either allow UEFA to conduct a general ballot or rank the remaining valid bookings in order, according to the loyalty system. We have already gone through that process for UEFA at the end of March, so they should use that to prioritise remaining ‘Red Wall’ bookings.
Part III – The Italy game
Do I have to quarantine if I fly to Rome from Baku?
PC: Italy has Azerbaijan on its danger list, so the rules are very strict and impossible really for Welsh fans to travel between Rome and Baku with a long quarantine and testing compulsory on your arrival in Italy.
What is the situation regarding fans attending games in Rome?
PC: At the moment the game is due to be held at 25% capacity, which is around 17,500 supporters.
Does the capacity include foreign fans visiting Rome?
PC: At the moment we don’t know.
If I fly from Rome via a different airport than Baku, such as via Georgia or Russia, do I still have to quarantine?
PC: Again, yes you have to quarantine for five days and provide a negative COVID-19 test.
Part IV – Return to the UK
Do I have to quarantine after arriving back from Baku directly or via another airport?
PC: Yes, if you have visited Azerbaijan, you must provide a negative PCR test on arrival in UK and self-isolate for 14 days. You have to have a COVID-19 test on day two and day eight after arrival and at your own expense. We are hoping that the Governments will update this information in the coming weeks. These tests must be booked and paid for in advance and the Welsh Government does not permit early 5 day release from quarantine.
Part V – Travel insurance
Am I covered on European Health Insurance Card?
PC: No, Azerbaijan is not in list of participating European countries and therefore you won’t be covered by this. A Worldwide or customised insurance policy is advised – we recommend speaking to your insurance provider.
Will travel insurance cover the additional costs incurred, such as quarantine fees and new flights, if I test positive while abroad?
PC: We’ve found a lot of conflicting advice about this issue out there. It varies by provider – not one of the 143 travel insurance companies analysed by Which? magazine in April offered complete COVID-19 protection. We highly recommend doing your own research and putting any questions you have directly to your insurers.
Am I covered if I return to the UK when a country I have been in, like Azerbaijan or Italy, are placed on the red list after I have travelled there? Would I have to pay for the UK Government 14-day quarantine and testing?
PC: Again, it has been very hard to find companies that will cover this cost. We’d suggest speaking to your insurers directly.