NEW YORK - New York's governor is opening up stadiums and arenas to sports and concerts this month.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday afternoon that any large stadium in the state can reopen starting on Feb. 23, 2021, at 10% capacity for venues over 10,000 seats. Any guest would have to have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of an event and wear face coverings.
"The testing is key," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The venues would have to have social distancing and assigned seating and do temperature checks at the door.
Any venue would first have to have its reopening plans approved by the state health department.
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When can fans go to games in New York City?
The governor said that the Barclays Center in New York City is going to be the first venue to open under the new plan. The Brooklyn Nets game vs. the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 23 will welcome a limited number of fans.
The New York Knicks and New York Rangers said they plan to host about 2,000 fans at every game, starting with Feb. 23 and Feb. 26 games at Madison Square Garden.
Cuomo said a test during a Buffalo Bills NFL playoff game last month was successful so he decided to allow stadiums statewide to reopen.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reacted positively to the news.
"I think it can be done safely with a lot of precautions but we have to keep a really careful eye on the situation," Mayor de Blasio said. "You are talking about a really limited audience and a lot of precautions. Right now, I think that can work."
But CUNY School of Public Health epidemiology professor Denis Nash said New York's approach lacks a scientific basis when "community prevalence is very high." He and other public health experts interviewed by The Associated Press pointed to evidence that COVID-19 spreads more easily indoors and questioned why New York's policy includes indoor stadiums, which raises the risk of people sitting near others who may be cheering or taking masks off while eating.
"To think about bringing people into large groups and mass gatherings including in indoors arenas, right now, seems cross-purposes with our efforts to really maximize the impact that the vaccine roll out will have in controlling the pandemic," Nash, the executive director for CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health, said.
With the Associated Press.