New York stadiums will reopen for sports activities and leisure at 10% of regular capability
Major arenas and stadiums in New York may soon be reopened to sports and entertainment at 10% of their normal capacity, according to a plan announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, amid public health experts concerns about the still high rate of Covid-19 Infections and have the risk of more contagious variants.
According to Cuomo, large stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 people or more can reopen with limited viewers from February 23rd.
The Barclays Center, with around 17,700 seats for basketball games, has already received state approval to reopen February 23 for the Brooklyn Nets’ home game against the Sacramento Kings. And the New York Knicks and New York Rangers said they plan to take in about 2,000 fans for each game, starting with the February 23 and 26 games at Madison Square Garden.
The Nets and and Knicks are part of about a dozen of the 30 NBA teams that allow some fans to participate in games, according to the league’s website. It is unclear how many states allow indoor concerts.
A spokesman for the New York Yankees described Cuomo’s announcement as an “encouraging first step”.
However, Denis Nash, professor of epidemiology at the CUNY School of Public Health, said that New York’s approach has no scientific basis when “the prevalence in the community is very high”. He and other public health experts interviewed by The Associated Press suggested that Covid-19 spreads more easily indoors and outdoors Asked Why New York City’s policies include indoor stadiums, which increases the risk of people sitting around others, cheering while eating or taking off masks.
“The idea of bringing people into large groups and mass gatherings, including indoors, currently seems to be in line with our efforts to truly maximize the impact of the vaccine’s introduction on the pandemic,” said Nash, executive director for CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health said.
The number of new infections in New York is falling, but is still much higher per capita than most states: Nearly 62,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the past seven days – a rate last seen in early December.
At least 1,000 people with Covid-19 have died in nursing homes and hospitals every week since the beginning of January.
And New York has the nation’s highest per capita Covid-19 hospitalization rate: 7,593 patients as of Tuesday, compared with nearly 9,300 in mid-January.
Eli Rosenberg, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of the Albany School of Public Health, said he was concerned that the venues were up to the rules and whether the postponement would suggest New York is “out of the woods.”
“We are still at a very difficult point, even if the trajectory is good,” said Rosenberg.
Still, Cuomo and his aides have compared signs of waning post-Winter Flood spread to mid-May, when his government began lifting restrictions.
“Live sports and entertainment have long been entrenched in New York City, and the inability to host events has only added to the isolation we have all felt from this virus,” Cuomo said.
The stadiums must mandate face covering, social distancing and temperature checks, in addition to assigning “socially distanced” seating and complying with air filtration and cleaning standards.
According to Cuomo, all staff and spectators must receive a negative laboratory test within 72 hours of the event. Cuomo consultant Gareth Rhodes said 82% of tests in New York come back within 48 hours.
However, according to Scott Weisenberg, an infectious disease specialist and director of the travel medicine program at NYU Langone Health, the possibility remains that people who recently tested negative for Covid-19 one day could transmit the virus on game day.
Cuomo announced its pilot program that allowed nearly 6,800 Buffalo Bills fans to personally watch two playoff games at the open-air stadium after testing negative for Covid-19.
“We had virtually no cases of spread in this game,” Cuomo claimed on Jan. 29.
However, Cuomo has not responded to the AP’s repeated requests for evidence to support this claim.
The Department of Health had planned to compare the list of participants with the list of people who tested positive in New York over the next two weeks. However, state health officials said they failed to track about 281 people outside the state of fans who attended the first game.
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This story was published by a wire agency feed with no changes to the text. Only the heading was changed.