Cuomo announces NY stadiums, arenas to reopen with testing

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Stephanie Guerilus
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Gov. Cuomo said that the stadiums and arenas will have to be pre-approved by the state’s Department of Health

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his blessing for stadiums and arenas to reopen with limited capacity starting on Feb. 23.

Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday during a press briefing that stadiums that seat 10,000 or more will be limited to 10% capacity if the state’s Department of Health preapproves them, CNBC reported. The stadiums and arenas will have to show how they will enforce mask-wearing, social distancing, and temperature checks.

Yankee Stadium
New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles stand during a moment of silence at Yankee Stadium on September 11, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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Furthermore, fans attending will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before any event they attend.

The stadiums closed last March as the coronavirus spread across the state. As of Wednesday, the positivity rate in New York was 4.3%. Experts had previously stated that it needed to be at 5% in order for these large spaces to reopen amid the pandemic.

“Any large stadium or arena — hockey, basketball, football, soccer, baseball, music shows, performances — any large arena can open on Feb. 23,” Cuomo said at the press briefing.

The New York Yankees welcomed the decision by Cuomo and pledged to continue working with Cuomo to find a way for fans to enjoy games while prioritizing their health and well-being.

“The safety of everyone who enters Yankee Stadium remains our top priority, and we will work diligently and in lock-step with the governor to ensure all precautions and procedures are being followed as we lead up to the 2021 baseball season,” the statement read.

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 23: Kyrie Irving #11 and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrate after Irving drew the foul in the second half against the Miami Heat at Barclays Center on January 23, 2021 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be the first major event in lieu of this announcement. The Brooklyn Nets will play against the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 23. Cuomo credited a pilot program that was put into practice last month which saw 7,000 fans being able to attend a Buffalo Bills’ home playoff game if they presented a negative COVID-19 test and contact tracing.

“The success of this, and similar events in approved venues over the coming weeks will help inform the re-opening process for smaller venues in the future,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo emphasized that testing would be the most critical factor going forward.

“I can go see the president of the United States, take a test, and if I pass the test, walk into the Oval Office,” the governor said. “Why? If you’re negative, you’re negative. Testing is the key.”

He added that it “hits the balance of a safe reopening. A PCR test is as safe as you can get.”

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