EXCITED football fans across the borough are being reminded to put Covid safety first when watching Euro 2020 games this summer.

The eagerly-anticipated European Championships – delayed by a year due to the pandemic – kicks off this evening with England first in action on Sunday afternoon.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has urged any residents planning on having a gathering for the games to watch them outdoors to ensure plenty of fresh air and space to social distance.

The tournament is expected to draw larger crowds to pubs and bars over the next few weeks as people meet with friends to enjoy the matches.

However, the borough is currently experiencing a steep rise in cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant.

The seven day case rate to June 5 is 101 cases per 100,000 of population, compared to five cases per 100,000 on May 27, although this is primarily down to a surge in coronavirus levels in the Northwich and Winsford areas.

The council’s Public Health team is advising residents this weekend to remember to wash hands, cover their faces, observe social distancing and spend as much time as possible outdoors when congregating, to prevent cases increasing further.

Residents are also advised to get tested regularly, especially before visiting hospitality venues, and get vaccinated if they are eligible.

Ian Ashworth, director of public health for Cheshire West and Chester, said: “The Delta variant is spreading quickly through our borough and across the North West of England.

“Thousands of Northwich and Winsford residents had a PCR test in the last week, helping to protect family members while also giving valuable information to our teams tracking the spread of the virus. We know that it is also spreading in our other towns.

“We know that many of our residents have been vaccinated or are in the process of getting their first or second jab. This is great news because it will stop people from getting seriously ill from Covid-19.

“However, we also know that there are some in our community who are not vaccinated and that, while we encourage them to go and get a vaccination, we have to protect them from getting ill.

“There is the potential for the virus to spread further among crowds gathering to watch Euro 2020. Today, we are advising residents to continue to remember: hands, face, space and fresh air. Let’s all play our part to stop any more people from getting sick and dying from this disease.”