New York will reopen stadiums with limited capacity

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York state will allow large stadiums and arenas, such as Citi Field and Madison Square Garden, to reopen for sports and concerts later this month, with sharply limited capacity and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Any stadium that can fit more than 10,000 people can stage events beginning on Feb. 23 at 10% capacity so long as the state’s Department of Health signs off on its safety plans, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.

Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has already won approval for a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings on that day, Cuomo said.

Some venues, including Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, have already been redeployed as mass vaccination sites. State officials said they would discuss with venue managers how to continue vaccination efforts once sports and concerts return.

FILE PHOTO: The 8th avenue entrance to Madison Square Garden is pictured after it was announced that the famous arena would serve as both an early voting site and an Election Day voting site in New York City, New York, U.S., August 31, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

The venues must enforce all COVID-19 prevention measures, such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and social distancing, Cuomo said. Attendees must show evidence that they had tested negative for the novel coronavirus within 72 hours prior to the event’s start.

In January, Cuomo allowed a limited number of spectators at a Buffalo Bills NFL playoff game, the team’s first in 24 years.

It was the first time spectators were at a professional sporting event in New York state since the coronavirus brought sports to a halt in mid-March.

About 6,700 fans attended the game at the 72,000-seat Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo in western New York.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman


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