WEST HAM’s Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna WILL be able to go ahead, but behind-closed-doors.
The Austrian government this morning announced a new national lockdown amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the country.
From Monday, all non-essential shops will close and people will be ordered to work from home under the measures, which are a 20-day short term shock to society aimed at stopping a fifth wave of Covid-19.
It means the 23,500 Rapid Vienna fans with tickets for the game will be forced to watch from home.
The Hammers are due to take on Rapid in Vienna on Thursday needing just a point from their remaining two matches to secure top spot in the group stages.
But now there will also be no home fans at the game in line with new Government restrictions in Austria.
Although after some uncertainty regarding whether the game would go ahead at all, it has now been confirmed that the clash will take place.
Last season when local regulations meant a match could not be staged at a home stadium, the game would be switched to a neutral venue to ensure no delays to the fixture programme.
But with less than a week to go until the game is due to be played, that would have left little time coming up with an alternative plan for this tie.
Fortunately though a resolution has been found and the Allianz Stadion will still play host to David Moyes and Co.
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From February 1 next year, all Austrians will be required to have both jabs, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced. Those who refuse could face heavy fines.
Austria registered a whopping 15,145 new Covid cases on Thursday, smashing last November’s peak of 9,586 confirmed cases.
Covid rates have been rapidly rising in recent weeks as the country grapples with one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe – roughly 66 per cent – and among the highest infection rates with a seven-day average of 990.7 per 100,000 people in the past week.
Experts warn the death toll could reach 2,000 by the end of this week, according to Kronen Zeitung.
“Despite months of persuasion, we have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated,” Schallenberg told a press conference on Friday and blamed those refusing to get jabbed for an ‘attack on the health system’.
He added: “Whipped up by radical anti-vaxxers, by fake news, too many among us didn’t get vaccinated. The results are overcrowded intensive care units and enormous suffering.”
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