COVID-19: Arsenal take the lead in welcoming fans back after 271 days away

Arsenal welcomed back 2,000 lucky fans to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night – the first spectators allowed into a top-level competitive game in England since 11 March.

Alexandre Lacazette ran over to celebrate in front of the supporters after he opened the scoring in a 4-1 win against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League.

“It was amazing,” he said.

“It really helped us during the game. Even in bad moments they pushed us.”

Manager Mikel Arteta said: “It makes a huge difference to feel that support and energy from them.”

The fans had waited 271 days to return to the Emirates Stadium after coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation back in the spring.

Supporters are being urged to wear masks and avoid high-fiving and hugging.

However, cutting out chants and singing may be a little harder to enforce.

Gunners fan Steve Manzanero said: “I’m screaming my lungs out.

“If I’m not hoarse by the time I go back to work tomorrow then we haven’t had a good time.”

At the final whistle, the stadium announcer declared: “It’s great to see you, to hear you back.”

The updated rules mean in Tier 1, a maximum of 4,000 fans will be allowed at outdoor events.

Up to 2,000 people will be allowed in Tier 2 areas but none in Tier 3.

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