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Austria relaxes coronavirus lockdown, permits footballers to train ahead of behind-closed-doors season finale

Austria relaxes coronavirus lockdown, permits footballers to train ahead of behind-closed-doors season finale
Austria has become one of the first European nations to relax its rules on social distancing and sporting events, after announcing professional football teams could resume training ahead of the final games of the season.

The Austrian government announced Wednesday that teams in their professional leagues could start training gain ahead of the resumption of the Austrian football season, which will be completed with matches played behind closed doors.

The sporting world has ground to a virtual standstill as a result of social distancing and quarantine laws and guidelines being imposed across the globe, but Austrian authorities have taken the decision to allow footballers to get back to work, with games played without fans once the season resumes.

The government also stated that the professional leagues themselves would be responsible for conducting coronavirus tests on players, which would be required to be held during the 48 hours before kickoff. All players and staff would have to be tested under the supervision of the league.

It means Austria will be one of the first nations to relax their laws and follows their decision to allow certain shops to reopen on Tuesday.

The Austrian Vice Chancellor and Sports Minister Werner Kogler said training could resume as early as Monday April 20, with groups of six players training to gether, with the same groups maintained throughout all sessions. It's a similar setup to that employed in Germany, who has also allowed teams to resume training.

No date was given for a league restart, but it is believed May has been earmarked for a potential resumption of play.

Kogler explained, "We, as the federal government, want to make this possible, we don't want to stand in the way." 

LASK Linz currently leads the Austrian Bundesliga's Championship Group with 27 points, four points clear of Salzburg in second.

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