New York allows large arenas to partially reopen

·2-min read
The Brooklyn Nets have been playing behind closed doors at the Barclays Center due to the pandemic

New York will allow stadiums and large venues to open at 10 percent capacity from later this month, almost a year since they closed, the state's governor announced Wednesday.

The Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks will lead the partial reopening by welcoming spectators into their respective home arenas, the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, for games on February 23.

The Nets' match against the Sacramento Kings in the NBA that day will be the first time in 352 days that the team has played in front of fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Knicks said in a statement it planned to have 2,000 fans at every game beginning with its February 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 percent capacity, including for music and theater.

"It hits the balance of a safe reopening," the governor told reporters.

Spectators will have to provide proof that they tested negative in a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before the event.

They will also have their temperature taken upon entering the arena, and must wear a mask and respect social distancing throughout the event.

The plan follows a successful trial in January when 6,700 spectators attended a Buffalo Bills match in the NFL.

All fans had to test negative before being allowed to sit in the stadium, which has 71,600 seats.

The Barclays Center seats 17,700 spectators during normal times while Madison Square Garden seats around 20,000.

The New York Rangers, which also play at the Garden, said it too have 2,000 fans at every game beginning with its NHL match against the Boston Bruins on February 26.

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.

Cuomo gave no information about the status of venues with a capacity of fewer than 10,000.

Cuomo banned all gatherings of more than 500 people on March 12, 2020 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 percent on January 4 to 4.31 percent on Tuesday.