NY arenas to reopen for music & sports events, with restrictions
Starting later this month, arenas in NY will be able to reopen for musical performances and sports. In his Wednesday (2/10) address, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that starting on February 23, arenas with a capacity of over 10,000 people could hold events, with the approval of the state Department of Health, limited to 10% of their capacity. They'd be subject to other restrictions, too: attendees would need to provide proof of having received a negative PCR test result in the 72 hours prior to the event. They'd also get their temperature checked. Once inside, face masks and social distancing would be mandatory, via assigned, socially distanced seating.
The first arena event of the COVID era given the go-ahead to proceed is the February 23 Brooklyn Nets vs Sacramento Kings game at Barclays Center.
Analysis of another New York sporting event, the Buffalo Bills playoffs in January, showed "no discernible rise in COVID cases;" Cuomo called the event an "unparalleled success."
"If you’re negative you are negative, so the testing is the key," Cuomo said on Wednesday. "We are now going to extend the Buffalo Bills example."
"The truth is, we cannot stay closed until everyone is vaccinated," he continued. "The economic, psychological, emotional cost would be incredible."
In a statement, a spokesperson for Madison Square Garden said, "We want to thank Governor Cuomo for allowing us to move forward with welcoming fans back to MSG. We intend to host roughly 2,000 fans at every game, beginning with the February 23 Knicks game against the Warriors and the February 26 Rangers game against the Bruins. Health and safety remain our top priority, and we will be working closely with state and health officials to implement the strongest operating protocols. We know our fans are anxious to return and we can’t wait to see them at The Garden once again."