NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that arenas in New York that hold more than 10,000 people can reopen with a 10% capacity limit starting February 23.
People in attendance must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours to attend. Face coverings must be worn, social distancing enforced, and assigned seats are mandatory.
"The Buffalo Bills demonstration program was an unparalleled success," he said. "7,000 people in a stadium, everyone tested. The only stadium to open up for football with testing, believe it or not. The testing to me is key."
In New York City, the first approved event is the NBA's Brooklyn Nets game vs. the Sacramento Kings at the Barclays Center.
In addition, Madison Square Garden will allow 2,000 fans at each game, starting with the New York Knicks vs. the Golden State Warriors on February 23 and the New York Rangers vs. the Boston Bruins on February 26.
Event plans must be approved by the state Department of Health. Venues that can open include hockey, basketball, football, soccer, baseball, music, and other shows.
"Anyone else who is interested they should let us know," Cuomo said. "This is a difficult time on many, many levels. Personally, emotionally, economically, but we are finding the balance and we are going to be the better for it."
The success of the Nets game and similar events in approved venues over the coming weeks will help inform the re-opening process for smaller venues in the future.
"While we continue to fight COVID on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently and in a balanced way," Cuomo said. "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. 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."
Specifically, in order to re-open venues to professional sports, sites must:
--Obtain DOH approval for both venues and events
--Institute a 10% capacity limit in arenas and stadiums
--Ensure 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 all those in attendance
--Mandate assigned, socially distanced seating
--Collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts
--Meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards
--Ensure retail, food services and athletic activities abide by all state-issued guidance
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