Andrew Cuomo Says NY Sports Arenas Can Reopen in Limited Capacity on Feb. 23

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters during a news conference at a COVID-19 pop-up vaccination site in the William Reid Apartments Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state will begin allowing attendance for concerts and sporting events, beginning Feb. 23.

Events will be limited to 10 percent capacity for any arena with a total capacity of over 10,000 attendants. People who attend the events must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their attendance and will be required to wear face coverings and undergo temperature checks on admission.

The New York Knicks announced on Wednesday that Madison Square Garden intends to host "roughly" 2,000 fans per game, starting with the team's contest against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 23:

Madison Square Garden will allow fans to attend New York Rangers games beginning on Feb. 26.

Attendance at sporting events has been banned in New York for nearly 11 months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The issue has been decided on a state-by-state basis and essentially divided down political lines. Most states with Democratic governors, adhering to the advice of medical professionals, have banned fan attendance throughout the pandemic. Most states with Republican leadership have pushed for their states to "open," which has led to those states having limited fan attendance for months.

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The Buffalo Bills were granted an exception to host up to 6,700 fans during their playoff run last month. Cuomo, a Democrat, said the state will be using the Bills as an example of how to safely hold events with some fan attendance. 

New York was the state hit hardest at the beginning of the pandemic, particularly in New York City. Cases in the state remain among the highest in the nation, so it's unclear what scientific basis the governor is using to reopen the state with the vaccine rollout still well behind schedule. 

Cases have dropped since a nationwide spike in January but remain higher than they were in the fall and last summer, when New York had banned attendance at games.