Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that, building on the Buffalo Bills’ successful pilot program, sporting and entertainment events in major stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more will be able to reopen. with a limited number of spectators from February 23. Following the model established under the successful Buffalo Bills pilot program, venues and events must follow similar guidelines, including Department of Health approval for venues and events, capacity limitations, requirements testing, mandatory face coverings, temperature checks and socially distanced assigned seating.
Work by the Department of Health to inspect eligible venues statewide is already underway, and thanks to that work, the Barclays Center was cleared to reopen on February 23 for the Brooklyn Nets’ home game against the Sacramento. Kings. The success of this event and similar events at approved venues over the coming weeks will help inform the process of reopening smaller venues in the future.
“As we continue to fight COVID on multiple fronts, we must also reopen this economy in a smart and balanced way,” Governor Cuomo said. “Live sports and entertainment have long been woven into the fabric of New York City and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus. Thankfully , our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans has been an unprecedented success and now we’re taking that model and expanding it to other major venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also to help bring fun and joy back into people’s lives in the safest way possible.”
Concretely, to reopen the sites to professional sports, the sites must:
- Obtain Ministry of Health approval for venues and events
- Introduce a 10% capacity limit in arenas and stadiums
- Ensure that all staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event
- Mandate face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks for everyone present
- Assigned mandate, socially distanced seating
- Collect contact information for everyone present to help inform contact tracing efforts
- Meet improved filtration, ventilation and air purification standards
- Ensure that retail, food services, and athletic activities adhere to all state-issued guidelines