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Cuomo approves New York arena openings at partial capacities

New York IslandersGov. Andrew Cuomo has approved New York arena openings, paving the way for Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center to welcome a limited number of fans to NHL and NBA games.

Arenas holding a minimum of 10,000 fans will be allowed to operate initially at 10 percent capacity. The order goes into effect Feb. 23, with the Brooklyn Nets (NBA) planning on a crowd of around 1,700 in an arena seating 17,700, with a safety plan approved by state officials. The New York Knicks are planning on welcoming 2,000 or so fans to Madison Square Garden for NBA games, beginning Feb. 23 as well. The New York Islanders (NHL) also plan on welcoming fans to the Nassau Coliseum as soon as they can:

New York arena openings are not the only venues affected by Cuomo’s order: it also applies to football, soccer, baseball and performance venues of 10,000 or more. That means Yankee Stadium and Citi Field can be open for the beginning of the 2021 MLB season launching on April 1.

There are some conditions. Attendees must provide results of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of attending the event–the same condition placed on the Buffalo Bills when hosting an NFL playoff game–a game that was “an unparalleled success,” Cuomo said at today’s press conference.

According to a state press release, in order to re-open venues to professional sports, sites must:

  • Obtain DOH approval for both venues and events
  • Institute a 10 percent 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

If these larger venue can successfully re-open, the state will then turn its attention to smaller venues.

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