The police have been asked to be on standby as establishments gear up for Sunday’s Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, Malta’s most popular football teams.

Philip Fenech, deputy president of the Chamber of SMEs, told Times of Malta that about 25 bars have reported bookings coming in steadily for the match.

He said these were expected to spike over the coming hours. As with all big events, tensions are expected to soar and crowd control at such a sensitive time is important, Fenech pointed out.

“I have asked the police to treat Sunday as though it were an election and to provide detailed reinforcement, especially in areas where crowds gather,” he explained.

Malta yesterday recorded 55 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single surge of infections in two months.

Fenech said the game would undoubtedly mean more people outdoors and, though establishments had crowd control measures in place, individuals should take it upon themselves to intermingle responsibly.

“Many football fans will be watching the game at home but others will want to share the energy with others. We know how the virus is spread so each of us has a responsibility to take precautions,” he said.

The owner of Jessie’s Bar, Claude Paris, said the pub was already booked out as was standard whenever England and Italy played in the month-long tournament.

“The only difference from pre-COVID years is that people booked well in advance to make sure they got a seat since we are operating at reduced capacity,” he said.

Carcades in Malta have followed Italy and England’s wins on the road to Sunday’s final, though the historic rivalry between the two appears to be dwindling, especially among the young.

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