NEW YORK • Stadiums and large venues in New York will be allowed to open at 10 per cent capacity from later this month, almost a year since they closed, the state’s governor has announced.
Basketball teams Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks will lead the partial reopening by welcoming spectators into their respective home arenas, the Barclays Centre and Madison Square Garden, for games on Feb 23.
The Nets’ match against Sacramento Kings in the National Basketball Association that day will be the first time in 352 days that the team has played in front of fans due to the coronavirus pandemic. And the Knicks said in a statement that it planned to have 2,000 fans at every game beginning with its Feb 23 match against Golden State Warriors.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said any venue accommodating more than 10,000 people will be eligible to operate at 10 per cent capacity, including for music and theatre.
“It hits the balance of a safe reopening,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Spectators will have to provide proof that they tested negative for Covid-19 in a polymerase chain reaction test taken no more than 72 hours before the event. They will also have their temperatures taken upon entering the arena, and must wear a mask and respect social distancing throughout the event.
Several US states already allow large venues to accommodate the public, especially Florida where the Super Bowl took place on Sunday in front of 25,000 people.
Mr Cuomo gave no information about the status of venues with a capacity of fewer than 10,000. He had banned all gatherings of more than 500 people last March 12, as the pandemic began to ravage New York. Covid-19 has killed more than 45,000 people in the state.
The governor said New York’s positivity rate had declined for 33 consecutive days, falling from 7.94 per cent on Jan 4 to 4.31 per cent on Tuesday.