Sports arenas

New York to open limited-capacity sports arenas and concert halls

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that indoor gyms and concert halls could reopen on February 23.
  • Capacity will be limited to 10% and participants will be allocated distributed seats.
  • Guests will also need to take a negative COVID-19 test before entry and must wear face coverings.

New York State has just given the green light to sporting stadiums and indoor concert halls to attract live audiences.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that any stadium or arena with a total capacity of 10,000 people or more could reopen at 10% capacity as of February 23.

The announcement came a month after the state allowed nearly 7,000 fans to attend a Buffalo Bills playoff game at Orchard Park.

“The Buffalo Bills protest was an unprecedented success,” Cuomo said at a press conference, adding, “We will now extend the Buffalo Bills example to any major stadium or arena.”

These venues host sports, including hockey, basketball, football, soccer, and baseball, as well as concerts and other shows.

Judge Aaronn of the Yankees

Yankees Stadium.

Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Each site must submit a plan to the state health department for approval before reopening. This plan must include mandatory face coverings and assigned seats to facilitate social distancing. Each guest who receives a ticket will also be required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test result – not a rapid test – within 72 hours of the event.

Cuomo said Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will be the first arena to open under the policy on February 23. The Brooklyn Nets will host the Sacramento Kings.

Cases drop in New York state

Bill fans

Orchard Park Stadium in Buffalo, New York on Jan.9.

AP Photo / Jeffrey T. Barnes

Every Bills fan who attended the Jan. 9 playoff game was tested for COVID-19 before entering – a move that is critical to reopening sports stadiums, Cuomo said.

“It touches the balance of the safe reopening,” he added.

The governor’s announcement came after New York’s COVID-19 positivity rate – the portion of tests that come back positive – fell to its lowest average since December 1: around 4%.

The number of cases is also decreasing and the number of vaccines is increasing, Cuomo said. The state has administered 2.6 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Lev Radin / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty

On Monday, Cuomo announced that New York City’s indoor food establishments could reopen on February 12 at 25% capacity.

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