Large stadiums and arenas in New York can welcome back fans and audiences starting February 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday. Venues that reopen must operate at 10 percent capacity and with coronavirus testing requirements in place. According to the governor, this could apply to sports, music, and performance venues. The Barclays Center has already been approved to reopen for a Brooklyn Nets game against the Sacramento Kings on February 23.
Last month, the state rolled out a pilot program that allowed fans at the Buffalo Bills playoff games only if they tested negative for the virus prior to entering the stadium. During a press briefing on Wednesday, Cuomo said the state is going to “extend the Buffalo Bills example,” which he called an “unparalleled success.”
“Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus,” Cuomo said. “Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies but also help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”
Stadiums and arenas that wish to reopen must submit a plan to the state’s Department of Health for approval. Requirements include 10 percent capacity limits for places with capacities of 10,000 people or more, face coverings, social distancing, temperature checks, spaced-out assigned seating, and a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of the event for fans.
Cuomo has repeatedly said he plans to use testing as a way to reopen the state and help the economy recover following the pandemic. On Monday, he announced the “NY PopsUp” plan to bring over 300 outdoor pop-up events and performances across New York in 100 days.
As more New Yorkers receive the vaccine in the coming months, the initiative will then include the reopening of some indoor venues with an audience, if there is testing in place. “Why can’t we use rapid testing to open restaurants in orange zones? Theaters? Offices?” Cuomo said during his State of the State address in January.
- ‘Arts Revival’ program to include 300+ outdoor pop-up performances and events around New York
- Cuomo’s ‘Arts Revival’ initiative will bring outdoor pop-up performances and events across New York