Football heading back behind closed doors: Bayern Munich are told they must play in empty stadiums again, as Germany considers shutting out fans across the country over Covid spike
- Bayern Munich have been told they will be playing behind closed doors again
- The Bavarian Prime Minister has insisted he will bring in restrictions regardless of what is agreed by the German national government on Tuesday afternoon
- Markus Soder said: ‘It makes no sense in the foreseeable future to admit viewers’
- The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has led to a huge surge in cases across Europe
Bayern Munich are preparing to play their upcoming home matches behind closed doors at the Allianz Arena as Germany reacts to a spike in coronavirus infections.
Europe is currently being hit by a surge in cases, thanks in part to the new Omicron variant, with Bavaria in particular taking a number of measures in a bid to halt the spread.
All Christmas markets in the area – usually a huge hit among residents and tourists – have been cancelled, and football is now also heading back behind closed doors, starting with Bayern’s Champions League clash against Barcelona next Wednesday.
The Bundesliga champions are away at title rivals Dortmund at the weekend, before they welcome Barca to the Allianz Arena a few days later.
From there, Bayern then face Mainz on December 11, another game which is expected to have no fans in attendance.
Bayern Munich will be playing to empty crowds again, much like the start of the pandemic
The team are top of the Bundesliga, but crowds are set to be told they cannot attend matches
The national government are consulting on Tuesday to decide next steps, but Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder has already made his own decision, insisting: ‘It makes no sense in the foreseeable future to admit viewers again.
‘It is an important demand that we decide today that we will no longer admit viewers in the future. If that doesn’t work at the federal level, we would do it for Bavaria alone.’
Soder then justified the move with a message from his Twitter account: ‘The high mobility when traveling to and from the club is currently irresponsible. Football is a great role model. We now have to reduce contacts everywhere.’
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and her successor Olaf Scholz, are set to discuss the Covid crisis with the heads of federal states at midday on Tuesday, where a final decision for the whole of the country will be made.
Champions Bayern, Augsburg and Greuther Furth are the three Bundesliga teams currently affected in Bavaria, with three more second division teams also in the region.
Two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant were detected in the southern German state of Bavaria at the weekend.
Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder (right) says it ‘makes no sense’ to allow fans to attend
There have been protests in Munich urging residents to take off their masks despite the surge
COVID IN GERMANY AND BEYOND
Germany reported another 45,753 new coronavirus cases and 388 deaths on Tuesday, but the seven-day number of cases per 100,000 people fell slightly for the first time in three weeks.
In Belgium, meanwhile, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned that infections in his country are now ‘worse than the worst-case scenario’ as he announced that nightclubs will have to to shut their doors while restaurants and bars are to close at 11pm.
Austria were the first European country to take action in the wake of the Omicron variant, as they were plunged into a fourth national lockdown.
Hotels, restaurants, bars, football stadiums and cultural attractions that were forced to shut on Monday are unlikely to be able to reopen until 13 December – leaving just 12 days until Christmas.
The two people with the variant entered Germany at Munich airport on November 24, before South Africa was designated a virus-variant area, and were now isolating, said Bavaria’s health ministry.
The two had come forward for further investigations after they heard about the new variant, which has caused global concern and prompted a wave of travel curbs.
The Bavarian ministry said anyone who had been in South Africa in the last 14 days should immediately reduce contacts, take a PCR test and contact their local health authority.
‘Bavaria has responded early and quickly to the very new variant,’ a ministry spokesperson said. ‘Everything must be done to stop it spreading.’
Of passengers arriving from Cape Town on Friday, 50 are in quarantine in Bavaria. Two foreign passengers tested positive for coronavirus and being investigated for the Omicron variant, the Bavarian ministry said.
In Germany, only 68.3 per cent of the population of about 83 million is fully vaccinated, far behind the rates in southern European countries such as Portugal and Spain. Some 10 per cent of the population has received a booster shot, said Spahn.
Germany recorded 67,125 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said. More than 100,000 people have died with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Munich’s famous Christmas markets, a huge draw for tourists, have already been cancelled
A decision on whether fans can attend matches outside of Bavaria will be made on Tuesday