NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced some long-awaited news for sports fans in New York on Thursday, as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease.
Starting April 1, sports venues with indoor capacities of 1,500 or outdoor capacities of 2,500 can reopen -- meaning it's time to play ball.
"The entire Yankees organization - and especially our players on the field - feed off the energy that our loyal and dedicated fans bring to Yankee Stadium," Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said. "Our fans have made our home a preeminent worldwide attraction, and their excitement is the catalyst for the championship goals we set every season. We are thrilled to be able to have them back in 2021 and promise them the highest standards for health and safety this season and beyond."
Indoor capacity will be capped at 10% and outdoor at 20%, so 8,384 fans can attend games at Citi Field and 10,850 at Yankee Stadium.
"We're really excited about the season ahead and welcoming the best fans in baseball back - safely - to Citi Field," Mets Owner, Chairman and CEO Steve Cohen said. "We thank Governor Cuomo and the state's Department of Health for their efforts in this significant step in New York's recovery from COVID and look forward to continuing to work with them as capacity restrictions and testing requirements hopefully ease in the months ahead - to allow as many fans as possible to have a safe and great time with us."
Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR/Antigen test will be required, and tickets will be sold in pod format.
"New Yorkers love to root for the home team, and it was especially difficult to see great professional sports teams close down as we implemented restrictions necessary to protect the public health," Cuomo said. "As New York's COVID situation improves, we're giving New Yorkers the opportunity to cheer on the Yankees and Mets in person as long as they stay safe. I look forward to seeing our beloved teams open Citi Field and Yankee Stadium again as we continue to recover from this pandemic."
Meantime, indoor dining will increase to 50% capacity in New York City and 75% in the rest of the state on Friday. Cuomo said effective March 22, the final five yellow zone restrictions will be lifted and that all clusters will be lifted.
Indoor fitness classes, primarily in New York City, will also reopen on March 22 -- with restrictions.
They will be subject to the same safety protocols that have been in place all across the state including, 33% capacity limits, masks, social distancing, and equipment cleaning.
Classes should be scheduled to allow additional time for cleaning and disinfection between sessions, and local health departments will also inspect before or within two weeks of the fitness center opening to ensure compliance.
However, Mayor Bill Blasio and city doctors once again cautioned New Yorkers to be "extremely careful" when returning to what it considers high risk indoor activity.
Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi said they were not consulted on the decision and that the city had previously indicated it did not support the reopening, citing fears of an increased risk of transmission in those spaces.
The mayor questioned whether the Cuomo administration is allowing the Monday reopening "for political reasons, because it sure as hell looks like a lot of these decisions are being made by the governor because of his political needs."
Also, on April 5, 11 p.m. curfews in place for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls, gyms, and fitness centers will all be lifted.
"New York is moving forward with reopening our economy and looking forward to a post-COVID world," Cuomo said. "We know the vaccine is the weapon that defeats this invisible enemy and we are getting more shots in arms than ever before."
Cuomo said the curfew for food and beverage establishments and the 12 a.m. curfew for catered events will remain in effect for the time being.
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