When the USMNT plays El Salvador in each side’s opening 2022 World Cup qualifier on Sept. 2, they will do so inside of an empty stadium in San Salvador after new COVID-19 restrictions were announced in the Central American country on Tuesday.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently lists El Salvador as a level 2 (moderate) risk destination for travelers, based on the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the country.
- Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to El Salvador.
- Unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to El Salvador.
El Salvador’s new restrictions are set to remain in place through mid-October, forcing La Selecta to play as many as four out of their seven home games without fans in attendance. Already facing an uphill battle to qualify from the eight-team, double round-robin stage of CONCACAF qualifying, the challenge will be significantly greater with their home-field advantage effectively nullified.
From the Health Department of El Salvador:
This transitory decree has the provision of suspending for a period of 90 days, from its enforcement, any concentration of people in an act of a public and private nature, referring to concerts, rallies and sporting events and celebration of patron saint festivities.
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After the USMNT, El Salvador is set to host Honduras, Panama and Mexico during the September and October international windows. With each window for 2020 World Cup qualifying already including an additional game due to the condensed time period available to complete the process, there will almost certainly be no exceptions made for El Salvador, or any other national team experiencing similar restrictions, to reschedule fixtures when fans can safely be allowed inside stadiums.