this is bbc news, i'm olly foster live at wembley, ahead of tonight's european championship final. for england's men, this has been a long time coming, the match against italy, their first major final for more than half a century. we need this, this year, after the time we have had, we need some of this, we need excitement, to be behind our country. hours before kick—off, thousands are already gathering on wembley way in support of gareth southgate's team — and he had this message for them: we will be doing everything we can, your support and energy has given us a huge lift and it will on sunday.
there's excitement too in italy, they are unbeaten in three years they are one of the form teams at this tournament as well, and they are confident they can beat england. i'm lukwesa burak with our other main stories. the uk's vaccine minister says the government is confident that plans to lift a range of covid restrictions will go ahead onjuly 19 in england. but he also said masks are still expected to be worn indoors. the fortification of the vaccination programme has allowed us to cautiously move to step four, and the prime minister will say more about this. sir richard branson prepares to venture to the edge of space, on the first passenger flight of his virgin galactic spaceship.
good afternoon. we are six hours away from the european championship final, but it doesn't feel like that because thousands of england fans are already here on wembley way, looking to make the most of every minute of a day that has been a long time coming. 55 years after sir alf ramsey's england won the world cup, they are now in another major final... the match against the four—time world cup winners italy could be the most—watched television event in the uk in broadcasting history. here's our sports correspondent, natalie pirks. come on, england! it is football's christmas eve. some fans are already at wembley, like kids impatient to unwrap their biggest present,
but who can blame them? 55 years is a long time to wait. we need it this year, after the time we've had, we need some of this, we need excitement, to be behind our country. southgate hasjust managed to find something that has brought togetherness, and theyjust seem as if they can do it this time. 55 years, not in my lifetime have i seen anything like this. - this was a moment to represent our time. —— our moment. the near misses and the tournaments that haven't gone so well weren't so important for this team. over the last four years, they've knocked down so many barriers, so their resilience and experience as a team have really prepared them well for this moment. this team has taken the public along for the ride. when they left their base in staffordshire yesterday and when they arrived in london, the players were reminded just what this means to the nation. but let's not forget about italy, a team unbeaten in three years. they were pushed very close in their semifinal by spain but went
through on penalties. england have never beaten them in a major tournament. the players have been a picture of calm, holed up inside their team hotel this morning. i wouldn't be surprised if many of them will be off social media. they will be limiting their phones and staying away from that so they don't get too hyped up about the whole situation. it's that balance of being focused, but also being relaxed. fans hope the team can keep their head while all around them are losing theirs. there really is no other story in town today, and the players have had messages from the queen, the prime minister, a facetime call from tom cruise and the duke of cambridge. i can't really believe this is happening. so exciting. just wish you the very best of luck. you bring out the very best of england, and the whole country is behind you, so bring it home. when the final whistle blows at wembley tonight, the waiting could be over. for too long, history
has weighed them down. the golden generation's expected to emulate what sir ralph ramsay did in 1966. this class of 2021 under gareth southgate has never been closer to sporting immortality. it is their best chance yet. that is why wembley way, behind me, beneath me, is packed. hundreds and hundreds more fans arriving. you can see the red flares going off. they were dancing on a bus in the last hour or so, they were removed, that bass was allowed to make its way to its destination, but there is only one destination, but there is only one destination here for these england fans. that's wembley way, pointing towards the stadium, the gates will openin towards the stadium, the gates will open in the next three hours, we are expecting 65,000 inside, many more will be celebrating and trying to watch this match around the country, leicester square in the centre of
london, that became the epicentre of the semi final celebrations on wednesday night, after the win against denmark lifted that semifinal curse after the italian, euro 96. and russia at the world cup. you can see already flares going off there as well. there is going off there as well. there is going to be a huge party there, if they can go one step further and win this majorfinal. the players, they are about four miles north of us here, in their luxury hotel, they will be making their way to the stadium in the next two or three hours with gareth southgate, the man who has notjust orchestrated their progress across the last four weeks, but also that last three years since reaching that semifinal in russia, with exceeded expectations. they have certainly exceeded their expectations here today to get to this final, and he has, today, released his message to the supporters.
hi there. i just want to take the time to say thank you for the incredible support from everybody that we received throughout this tournament. we hope that we have represented you in the right way, we hope you have enjoyed watching us play, i'm very grateful to all of the players and the incredible staff i've got with me, that we have been able to get to our first finalfor 55 years. of course, we know now that we've got to deliver for you, so we will be doing everything we can, your support and energy has given us a huge lift and it will on sunday. of course, england have been in their covid—i9 bubble, their competition bubble, trying to keep out all the exterior noise, not to be distracted by the hype that you can hear behind me, but they have fed off it as well, gareth southgate there wanting to give a little message back to the fans, huge anticipation, of course, in italy as well. many people thinking that this
match is really 50—50 because of the form that italy have been as well. our europe correspondent lucy williamson is in rome. there are very few people who will actually go out on a limb and say yes, they think it is italy's game. i thought that was because it might be a little scared of the england side this time, but i was put straight by a couple here, short while ago, he told me that it is because they are so superstitious in italy. they secretly think another, the fans have turned up ready, they secretly think they are going to win, but the not quite ready to say it, they don't want to jinx it. you heard from mancini that he has been emphasising that england are a strong side at the moment. he knows there is pressure on the italian team, they did not qualify for the world cup last time around, and so he has been telling his players to reallyjust he has been telling his players to really just enjoy the he has been telling his players to reallyjust enjoy the match and have fun. 0ur europe correspondent lucy
william from rome. the car horns have been beeping herejust as they have been beeping herejust as they have been beeping herejust as they have been in the italian capital. st george's flags all the way along when —— when high street. the scenes down wembley way are a sight to behold. it does take me back, to euro 96. i have not felt this kind of atmosphere since then, england's ran it to the semifinals then when they got knocked out on penalties by germany, but they lifted that semifinal curse here against the danes. let's speak to somebody who was in that england squad 25 years ago. let's speak now to the former newcastle defender steve howey — he was a member of england's euro 96 squad — the last team to have made it to a european championship semifinal. does it take you back a bit? it does. you're looking at the buses leaving the bases. the road with just masses of people, that is what it was like to and from the games, obviously, in 96. we saw before. it wasn't that bad yesterday, i must
admit when i first woke up my very first thought, my first thought about the game, and other butterflies kind of kicking in a bit. but for me, it is a strange one because although i am kind of... i wouldn't say worried, but you tend to think, what happens if you just don't do it? and surprisingly quite optimistic and quite positive about this. when the game kicks off, i will be able to see how we settled, who's playing, how we will go about this, i will be a lot more confident then, a lot more calmed down, shall we say. i then, a lot more calmed down, shall we sa . ., �* ~ then, a lot more calmed down, shall wesa. , we say. i don't think you can help but be worried _ we say. i don't think you can help but be worried on _ we say. i don't think you can help but be worried on a _ we say. i don't think you can help but be worried on a day _ we say. i don't think you can help but be worried on a day of- we say. i don't think you can help but be worried on a day of this i but be worried on a day of this magnitude. gareth southgate, he was your team—mates, we know what happened in that penalty shoot—out, southgate missing a crucial one. he's carried out for a long time and even the other day when they lifted that semifinal curse against denmark. he nodded towards david seaman in the stands, and he still
carried that with him. with gareth southgate, how impressed are you with how he has carried that on the team in the last five years? we were uuite team in the last five years? we were quite surprised _ team in the last five years? we were quite surprised that _ team in the last five years? we were quite surprised that gareth _ team in the last five years? we were quite surprised that gareth had - team in the last five years? we were | quite surprised that gareth had come out with that because as players and the management, nobody blamed gareth in any way shape or form for what happened in 96. we looked at it as though he had the courage to step up there and try and take one of those penalties. so i was quite surprised myself. i've spoken to gareth a few times over the years, and a lot recently. he has done a magnificent job, we have always said that i seemed to be a conflict, we seemed to get very good individual players with the england team and not quite get there or rita's point. but the last two competitions, semifinal of the world cup and now all the way and this one. it is superb. he has
nurtured these players, known them for a long time, since 21, a lot of them, not 21 yet, so he has done brilliantly. he trusts them, they trust him. he has kept such a happy camper because there have been plays in and out, and the players that i haven't even played. they have come out with missing the fact that you're not involved. i think one of them said, are you kidding me? this is the best six weeks of my life. this just goes to show that everybody is in this together. it is the art of management. however this match goes, you think you'll be able to write a book aboutjust match goes, you think you'll be able to write a book about just what they have achieved over the few weeks. with your defenders head on, i'm not sure you're going to say that harry maguire and john stones and however they have lined up in the backline, pictured, they've done a massive job, concedingjust pictured, they've done a massive job, conceding just one goal, but the way he has balanced this attacking forward line and getting harry kane going, raheem sterling
has been amazing as well. who harry kane going, raheem sterling has been amazing as well. who has imressed has been amazing as well. who has impressed you? — has been amazing as well. who has impressed you? all— has been amazing as well. who has impressed you? all of— has been amazing as well. who has impressed you? all of them. - has been amazing as well. who has impressed you? all of them. even l has been amazing as well. who has i impressed you? all of them. even the players that have come in straight off the bat, you look at tyrone mains, he came in and did really well, everyone thought was a straight decision, but that seems to work, phil foden, he did really well. he was in the team, then he was out, thenjordan sancho, then he was out, thenjordan sancho, then he was out. sacco came in. and he's also been out. everyone has added to the team. stirling will be starting, harry kane, a lot of criticism initially with him, before the tournament and even after the first two games. but they have stuck with it, they have stuck together. and these will cause italy problems, without a doubt, everyone talks about italy, and yes, they are renowned throughout the years of being a very good defensively, and they have two old heads though, in their defence. but for me, as perfect as well, for like the
sterling, kane, who dropped and we still don't know yet who is going to be that third attacking player. as i say, which everyone he picks, i'm fine with. everyone of them is a fantastic everyone of them has produced something of the tournament so far. the produced something of the tournament so far. �* , . produced something of the tournament so far. ~ , ., ., . . ., so far. the arsenal teenager, sacco, he seems to — so far. the arsenal teenager, sacco, he seems to be _ so far. the arsenal teenager, sacco, he seems to be the _ so far. the arsenal teenager, sacco, he seems to be the one _ so far. the arsenal teenager, sacco, he seems to be the one in _ so far. the arsenal teenager, sacco, he seems to be the one in position, | he seems to be the one in position, incredible trust. if you're good enough, old enough, the old adage. steve, thank you very much for joining us, who was in that squad at euro 96. your remember the three lions, football's coming home. that was a song they sang then, sweet caroline they are chanting now, the neil diamond classic, that seems to have become something of a classic year. yes, they are singing it again. let's stay with the theme of italy. england four, italy one. that's not a score prediction but a handy way to summarise the population of bedford.
one in five bedfordians are of italian descent — after thousands moved there during the 1950s to manufacture bricks. tonight, their descendants will be making a wall of sound. apologies for that! jon ironmonger has been to the town which will be celebrating tonight, whatever the result. there is a possibility the final here in bedford will be civilised, quiet celebrations. but it is unlikely. if the previous games are anything to go by, there will be huge crowds of england fans in the centre of town... and italy fans on the river embankment, because bedford is like the little italy of england, around one in five people here are italian and everyone apparently is a football fan. italia!
tonight's match will be a culture clash. joanne from england and her italian husband alfonso are only too sure. england. italy. england! we have had this conversation before. they have invited me to their pizzeria to see how easily one family from two famous footballing nations can get along. you're an english rose among thorns. laughter. how you going to cope? it is so nice, a win—win situation. so nice for the cultures to come together. someone has to lose. exactly. is going be unbearable? —— is it going to be unbearable? i wouldn't dare. he will. i can't talk too much when i am eating. i
because of the concentration of italians and being in bedford, it is so important, we are both in the final, the perfect final, it can go either way, that is how we have to see it. you will take it on the chin if england win? i will have to, but it will be a bitter blow. will you release an english themed pizza? definitely not. good idea! i have to draw the line somewhere. all of those italian families, those with connections, what a great place to watch the match tonight in bedford, a great place as well to be on wembley way, the flares are still going off, i can still see a few blue shirts down there, the azuri of italian fans, but vastly outnumbered as they will be in the stadium by england fans who are here. so many hours before kick—off. look at that, the smoke from those flares, and if so —— it is only going to become
more raucous and rowdy as we approach kick—off, this european championship final, remember, england are officially the away team because it is not a home championship, this year has spread far and wide across europe, but it is all about wembley now, it will feel like a home final for england and will that give them the edge over italy? for now, from wembley, i will hand you back to the studio, i'm assured there is some other news! 0lly foster, thank you very much. you're watching bbc news. the headlines on bbc news... 0n the brink of history — england's footballers prepare to take on italy, in tonight's final of euro 2020 — their biggest match in more than half a century. and at wimbledon, it's the men's singles final. novak djokovic aiming to win his sixth wimbledon title — he's taking on the italian matteo berrettini.
the uk's vaccine minister says, the government is confident that plans to lift a range of covid restrictions will go ahead onjuly 19 in england. but he also said, masks are still expected to be worn indoors. we stay with that story. the government is still expecting people to wear masks in many indoor spaces... and on public transport after covid restrictions in england are lifted. the prime minister is due to confirm tomorrow whether most of england's lockdown rules will end on the 19th ofjuly — including the legal requirement to wear masks. the vaccines minister, nadhim zahawi, says the government wants to stress the need for "both a personal responsibility and a corporate responsibility" as restrictions are eased. here's our health correspondent, jim reed.
it is one of the most visible signs of the pandemic. injust over a week, the legal requirement to wear a mask in england is set to end. speaking this morning, the vaccines minister said there would still be an expectation to mask up in some indoor spaces. the guidelines will be very clear on things like mask wearing. there is an expectation for people to wear masks indoors, in crowded places, on public transport. rather than government by diktat, we say that we moved a step forward cautiously. in wales, scotland and northern ireland, the legal need to wear a mask in some indoor venues will remain for the moment. in england, laboursaid making the requirement voluntary in eight days would be a mistake. we think more could be done to make sure that public spaces are properly ventilated, and as we have said all the way through this crisis, people who need to go home to self—isolate need, if they are on low incomes, to be financially supported to do that. it comes as infections continue
to rise across much of the country. more people are mixing, and there are signs that football has led to a spike in cases among young men. in scotland, that trend is starting to reverse. ministers have said the number of daily infections across the uk could hit 100,000 by august. vaccines will keep the vast majority out of hospital, but some are warning there could still be real disruption to nhs services. they would be younger. less severe, shorter stays. the actual numbers in hospital would still be well below the second wave peak, even if we did hit that 100,000 a day, but of course, it's very disruptive, having covid cases, and there would of course be a lot of bad outcomes. i guess the judgment is that it's better we do it now than in the winter. at a news conference tomorrow, borisjohnson will confirm plans to lift most remaining restrictions in england.
it's clear now that the message will be one of caution rather than celebration, as ministers and scientists try to navigate out of this pandemic. jim reed, bbc news. face coverings will still be mandatory in wales — in certain circumstances — even after covid restrictions are relaxed. welsh ministers will decide this week whether to lower the alert level to zero. but they say masks will still be required by law on public transport and in health and social care settings, for as long as covid remains a threat. experts have warned that it is possible to catch two covid variants at the same time, after a 90—year—old woman became sick with both the alpha and beta types, first identified in the uk and south africa. the woman, who died in march 2021 in belgium, had not been vaccinated. her doctors suspect she contracted the infections from two different people.
researchers believe it is the first documented case of its kind, and, although rare, similar dual infections may be happening. they are discussing the case at the european congress of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases today. parts of the us are braced for more record—breaking temperatures — having already endured the hottest june on record. forecasters are warning that some places including california and nevada will remain dangerously hot, fuelling fears of even more wildfires, as charlotte wright reports. in the western united states, the heat is relentless. 0n in the western united states, the heat is relentless. on friday, death valley in california reached 54.1; celsius. it is believed to be the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on earth. now morning is that much of california and nevada will be dangerously hot in the coming days. irate
will be dangerously hot in the coming days-— will be dangerously hot in the cominu da s. ~ , coming days. we deftly took the time to brin: coming days. we deftly took the time to bring extra — coming days. we deftly took the time to bring extra precautions _ coming days. we deftly took the time to bring extra precautions can - coming days. we deftly took the time to bring extra precautions can a - to bring extra precautions can a cooler full of water, we are making sure everyone stays hydrated. this is the hottest _ sure everyone stays hydrated. this is the hottest place on earth, it is hot, _ is the hottest place on earth, it is hot. it_ is the hottest place on earth, it is hot. it has— is the hottest place on earth, it is hot, it has never been hotter. with the extreme _ hot, it has never been hotter. with the extreme heat, _ hot, it has never been hotter. its! the extreme heat, comes hot, it has never been hotter. if“! the extreme heat, comes wildfires. the firefighters in the region so that the error so dry that of the water drop by aircraft to quell the flames evaporates before he reaches the ground. has flames evaporates before he reaches the round. �* , flames evaporates before he reaches the round. a , the ground. as soon as you get these hot temperatures _ the ground. as soon as you get these hot temperatures and _ the ground. as soon as you get these hot temperatures and these - the ground. as soon as you get these hot temperatures and these extreme | hot temperatures and these extreme drought conditions, that leads to the explosive growth on these wildfires, so not only are we dealing with these temperatures that are breaking records, affecting more than 30 million people, now, as those wildfires grow, in the coming days, we're going to have to watch about the air quality impacts in the region. in about the air quality impacts in the reuion. ., ., ., ., ., region. in a northern california, nearly 200 _ region. in a northern california, nearly 200 square _ region. in a northern california, nearly 200 square miles - region. in a northern california, nearly 200 square miles of - region. in a northern california, l nearly 200 square miles of forest have been closed. homes have been evacuated close to the nevada border. in idaho, the governor has declared a wildfire emergency and mobilise the statenational guard. because of our drought that we just came _ because of our drought that we just
came out— because of our drought that we just came out of this winter, we are a fuel. _ came out of this winter, we are a fuel. the — came out of this winter, we are a fuel, the trees, shrubs, very dry, so as_ fuel, the trees, shrubs, very dry, so as we — fuel, the trees, shrubs, very dry, so as we extend through the summer, we can_ so as we extend through the summer, we can extend the larger fires, so it is quite — we can extend the larger fires, so it is quite challenging in the months _ it is quite challenging in the months ahead. the it is quite challenging in the months ahead. ., ., ., . ., months ahead. the national weather service has advised _ months ahead. the national weather service has advised those _ months ahead. the national weather service has advised those in - months ahead. the national weather service has advised those in the - service has advised those in the region to drink plenty of water and stay inside air—conditioned buildings. the high temperatures are expected to continue well into next week. pope francis has appeared in public for the first time since undergoing intestinal surgery a week ago. a crowd gathered outside rome's gemelli hospital where the pope was being treated, for his weekly prayer, and he stepped out onto a balcony and thanked well—wishers for their support. the vatican says the pope's recovery is on track, but added he is not yet well enough to return home. sir richard branson is preparing to fly to the edge of space today. the businessman and his virgin galactic crew will take
off from new mexico — it was originally scheduled for 2pm uk time but has been delayed by an hour and a half because of the weather. it comes just nine days before another high—profile entrepreneur — the amazon founderjeff bezos — is planning his own space launch. tim allman has more. billionaire entrepreneurs heading into space are a bit like buses. you wait ages and then two come along almost at once. first up, sir richard branson and his unity rocket plane. taking off from a spaceport in new mexico, the virgin galactic crew should reach a high of 50 miles, 80 km, above the earth's surface. according to nasa, that's where the atmosphere ends, so sir richard will officially become an astronaut. i've always been a dreamer. my mum taught me to never give up and to reach for the stars. thisjuly, our dream
will become a reality. and we're really excited to share that moment with you all. the virgin galactic programme stretches back nearly 20 years, and hasn't always gone smoothly. in 2014, pilot was killed in a test flight over the mojave desert. this is only the beginning. soon enough, jeff bezos will take off in his blue 0rigin rocket. some critics say this is simply the folly of rich men. they question the logic of commercial space travel, when the skies are already full ofjunk. but for others, it's all about reaching for the stars. this is an attempt to regularise access to space. this is about getting economically achievable access to the industrialisation of space, so it is a really important flight. virgin galactic plans to start commercial services in 2022, they say they could be running 100 flights a year, 12 months later.
for sir richard branson, this is one small step for a billionaire, one giant leap for mankind. tim allman, bbc news. 0ur correspondent sophie long is as at the launch site and sent this update. i am at the world's first purpose—built commercial spaceport where, in a couple of hours, a lifelong dream could become a reality when sir richard branson along with two pilots and two other ——three crew members are due to fly to the edge of space. the launchtime has already been pushed back by an hour and a half due to weather conditions overnight but the sun is now rising and we are being told that everything is looking good and in a couple of hours' time we should see the spaceship unity launch from the two mile run beside me along with ship beside me and after 45 minutes. it should detach from the mothership and rocket to the edge of space, 50 miles above the surface of the earth. this has been more than 16 years in the making,
he has invested hundreds of billions of pounds in the project and for that hefty price tag, he should experience just a few minutes of weightlessness and get a view of earth enjoyed by only a few hundred humans before him. if everything goes according to plan, he will come out on the tarmac behind me, a mere mortal billionaire, but he will return to earth as an astronaut and then, i am told, he is going to the football. the euro 2020 final is not the only big sporting event taking place today — the action at wimbledon is well under way. earlier, britain's gordon reid narrowly missed out on a second men's wheelchair singles title, losing to belgium'sjoachim gerard. the men's singles final is now under way on centre court. defending championship —— champion at novak djokovic, it is currently 3-1 to at novak djokovic, it is currently 3—1 to djokovic in the first set. our correspondence is at wimbledon. 0ur correspondence is at wimbledon. do you know what? it is a visit to eight —— big day twice overfor italy. it
eight -- big day twice over for ital . , ., ., ., , eight -- big day twice over for ital. , ., ., ., i, italy. it is, we have already seen roberto mancini, _ italy. it is, we have already seen roberto mancini, the _ italy. it is, we have already seen roberto mancini, the italy- italy. it is, we have already seen i roberto mancini, the italy manager saying that all their hearts are not just on wembley today, but at wimbledon two, as they cheer on matteo very teeny in his first grand slam final. an awesome task in front of very teeny at the moment, taking on novak djokovic who is hoping to win his sixth wimbledon title here, will be 20 grand slams. that is a significant number because it would draw him level with roger federer and rafa nadal. what is extraordinary with djokovic is there when he won his first grand slam in australia, in 2008, no doubt was on four grandsons, he has been playing catch up his whole career, so he mightjust be there this afternoon. i have to say, in this first set, very teeny started well, he put pressure on the opening djokovic service, the world number one held back the money has made the breakthrough, as he said, he is 3—1 up. djokovic 30—0 up. it is already looking ominous. for very teeny. ——