Large arenas and stadiums throughout New York State will be permitted to open for business starting on February 23, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Venues with a capacity of 10,000 qualify for the new regulations. They will be able to operate at only 10% of capacity, and attendees must prevent a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to the event to gain admittance. Temperature checks will be performed on entry, masks will be required, and social distancing will be enforced.
Sports organizations will need to have their plans for accommodating fans approved by the state. Concerts also fall under the new guidelines.
The first event back is expected to be a Brooklyn Nets basketball game at Barclays Center on February 23rd. The New York Islanders issued a statement saying that they look forward to having fans back at Nassau Coliseum “as soon as possible.” With the MLB season looming, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium are also expected to admit fans this spring.
Cuomo cited the “unparalleled success” of Buffalo Bills games last month as inspiring his decision. 7,000 fans were allowed to attend those NFL playoff matches.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, said last month that he believes theaters and performance venues will open at scale “some time in the fall of 2021.”
Fauci referenced a German study released this past fall which concluded that the risk of getting infected at live concerts “is very low” as long as certain precautions are taken, among them major improvements to venue air ventilation systems. The study was conducted at a staged concert inside a 2,400-person venue filled to half capacity. All attendees were given respiratory face masks, fluorescent hand gel to trace how they interacted with the environment, and transmitters to trace their movements for evaluation later. Scheduled bathroom breaks and simulated food and drink transactions were built into the study.