Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that building off of the successful Buffalo Bills pilot program, sports and entertainment events in major stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more people can re-open with limited spectators beginning February 23. Following the model established as part of the successful Buffalo Bills pilot program, venues and events must follow similar guidelines, including Department of Health approval for venues and events, capacity limitations, testing requirements, mandatory face coverings, temperature checks, and assigned, socially distanced seating.
The Department of Health’s work to inspect eligible venues statewide is already underway, and thanks to that work, the Barclays Center has been approved to re-open on February 23 for the Brooklyn Nets home game against the Sacramento Kings. The success of this and similar events in approved venues over the coming weeks will help inform the re-opening process for smaller venues in the future.
“While we continue to fight COVID on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently and in a balanced way,” Governor Cuomo said. “Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus. Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies but also help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”
Specifically, in order to re-open venues to professional sports, sites must:
- Obtain DOH approval for both venues and events
- Institute a 10 percent capacity limit in arenas and stadiums
- Ensure all staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event
- Mandate face coverings, social distancing, and temperature checks for all those in attendance
- Mandate assigned, socially distanced seating
- Collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts
- Meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation, and purification standards
- Ensure retail, food services, and athletic activities abide by all state-issued guidance