(Natural News) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted large stadiums and arenas in the state to reopen for sports and concerts starting Feb. 23. Any venue that has a capacity of 10,000 people or more can hold events as long they accommodate strictly 10 percent of their total capacity, he said Feb. 10. Cuomo added that the venues must enforce all public health measures such as mandatory mask wearing and social distancing at all times. All health and safety plans must have the thumbs-up of the New York State Department of Health before events can push through, he noted.
Attendees must also present a negative COVID-19 test within three days or 72 hours before the event commences. However, it is not yet clear who will be in charge of verifying the tests and how possible forgeries of test results will be addressed. Cuomo emphasized that testing is key to successfully reopening sports and concert venues.
“The testing to me is key. I can go see the president … [but I have to] take a test and if I pass the test, [I can] walk into the Oval Office. Why? If you’re negative [for the virus], you’re negative. This hits the balance of safe reopening: A PCR test is as safe as you can get,” he commented.
Cuomo’s announcement came amid a dip in Wuhan coronavirus infections state-wide since a peak last month. While the fatality rate in New York is still at its highest since May 2020, average daily deaths have slid from 198 on Jan. 20 to 168 as of Feb. 10. This reflected a gradual improvement of COVID-19 figures across the country.
In January, Cuomo allowed a limited number of spectators to watch a NFL playoff game featuring home-grown football team Buffalo Bills. About 6,700 people attended the game held at the 72,000-seat Bills Stadium in the western New York city of Buffalo. It marked the first time spectators were allowed to watch a professional sporting event live since the pandemic’s onset in March 2020. The governor hailed the Buffalo Bills game as an “unparalleled success.”
Cuomo remarked that the state would now “extend the Buffalo Bills example” with a NBA playoff game at the Barclays Center in New York City’s Brooklyn borough. The Feb. 23 basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings received approval from the state health department. BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi thanked Cuomo for his contribution in creating a robust health and safety plan for returning spectators. BSE Global manages and operates Barclays Center.
Sports stadiums in New York state have reopened as vaccination centers for the time being
Despite the governor’s announcement of sports venues reopening, there was no word on when theater performances could resume.
Stadiums and arenas across the country were converted to vaccination venues given the lack of sporting events amid the pandemic, NBC News reported. In California, the home arena of the Los Angeles Dodgers was turned into a mass vaccination site for Californians alongside a parking lot active during San Diego Padres games. (Related: Disneyland converted into mass COVID-19 vaccination site.)
Meanwhile, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced that both Marlins Park and the Hard Rock Stadium would be turned into vaccination centers. The Miami Marlins baseball team plays their home games at the park, while the stadium is the home arena of the Miami Dolphins football team.
New York City also followed suit, with some sports venues like the Bronx’s Yankee Stadium being converted to mass vaccination sites. The Hill reported that Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, will be turned into the Big Apple’s biggest vaccination center. The ballpark will be open to administer Wuhan coronavirus jabs 24/7: It commenced operations at the end of January.
Mayor Bill De Blasio said during a press conference last month that the center aimed to vaccinate about 5,000 to 7,000 people every day. “This is going to help so many people to get vaccinated. We welcome all New Yorkers … [even] Yankees fans – there’s no discrimination.” (Related: Elderly man perishes shortly after COVID-19 vaccine is administered in New York’s Javits Center.)
New York state officials said they would discuss with venue managers how to continue vaccination efforts once sports and concerts return.
Visit Pandemic.news to learn how states such as New York are reopening sports venues amid the ongoing pandemic.