√ Professional sports in large outdoor stadiums reopen at 20% capacity; attendees must show proof of recent negative test or immunization; venues & events subject to strict state guidance
√ Regional sports venues that hold 1,500+ people indoors or 2,500+ people outdoors can reopen; capacity limited to 10% indoors and 20% outdoors
√ Large outdoor performing arts venues that hold 2,500+ people can reopen at 20% capacity
√ New York Yankees & New York Mets to start season with fans in stands beginning April 1
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was joined by Major League Baseball dignitaries on Thursday as he announced the New York Mets and New York Yankees can resume play with spectators in the stadiums beginning April 1.
Professional sports in large outdoor stadiums that hold 10,000 people or more will be allowed to reopen at 20% capacity. Attendees must show proof of a recent negative test or completed vaccination series prior to entry and are subject to strict state guidance on face coverings, social distancing, and health screening.
The New York State Department of Health will reevaluate the testing and vaccination entry requirements in May and, if the public health situation continues to improve, they may be discontinued in mid-May. Vaccinations will continue to be administered at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field during the MLB season.
Building on the recent reopening of large professional sports arenas, the governor also announced smaller, regional sports venues that hold 1,500 people indoors or 2,500 people outdoors can also reopen beginning April 1. Initial capacity will be limited to 10% indoors and 20% outdoors. Attendees must show proof of a recent negative test or completed vaccination series prior to entry and are subject to strict state guidance on face coverings, social distancing, and health screening.
Cuomo said large outdoor performing arts venues, including stadiums, that hold more than 2,500 people can reopen at 20% capacity beginning April 1. Again, attendees must show proof of a recent negative test or completed vaccination series prior to entry and are subject to strict state guidance on face coverings, social distancing, and health screening.
Venue capacity will continue to increase as the public health situation improves with more New Yorkers receiving vaccinations and fewer COVID-19 cases in the community.
"New Yorkers love to root for the home team, and it was especially difficult to see great professional sports teams close down as we implemented restrictions necessary to protect the public health," Cuomo said. "As New York's COVID situation improves, we're giving New Yorkers the opportunity to cheer on the Yankees and Mets in person as long as they stay safe. I look forward to seeing our beloved teams open Citi Field and Yankee Stadium again as we continue to recover from this pandemic."
To re-open professional sports with spectators at large outdoor stadiums, each venue must adhere to strict health and safety protocols, including:
√ Obtain New York State Department of Health approval for all venues and events
√ Institute a 20% capacity limit
√ Ensure spectators and public-facing event staff present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination prior to 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 for any indoor areas
√ Ensure retail, food services and athletic activities abide by all state-issued guidance
"We're really excited about the season ahead and welcoming the best fans in baseball back – safely – to Citi Field," Mets owner, Chairman and CEO Steve Cohen said. "We thank Gov. Cuomo and the state's Department of Health for their efforts in this significant step in New York's recovery from COVID and look forward to continuing to work with them as capacity restrictions and testing requirements hopefully ease in the months ahead – to allow as many fans as possible to have a safe and great time with us."
Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said, "The entire Yankees organization – and especially our players on the field – feed off the energy that our loyal and dedicated fans bring to Yankee Stadium. Our fans have made our home a preeminent worldwide attraction, and their excitement is the catalyst for the championship goals we set every season. We are thrilled to be able to have them back in 2021 and promise them the highest standards for health and safety this season and beyond. We are heartened by the governor's decision to allow us to begin the season at Yankee Stadium with a 20% capacity and offer our deep appreciation for his office's diligent work and guidance. This will be a very special year in the Bronx, and we will continue to work together with the state of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York, Major League Baseball, and other health and safety experts to utilize the best and most responsible practices in our facility. We are fully committed to providing a world-class experience at Yankee Stadium in every respect."
On Feb. 10, Cuomo announced that, building off the successful Buffalo Bills pilot program, sports and entertainment events in major stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more people could reopen with limited spectators beginning Feb. 23. This announcement reflects an increased capacity limit from 10% to 20% for large outdoor venues, which may host professional sporting events or live entertainment, starting April 1.
On March 3, Cuomo announced smaller-scale performing arts and live entertainment could resume at event venues with a 33% capacity, up to 100 people indoors and up to 200 people outdoors, beginning April 2. If all attendees present proof of recent negative COVID-19 test or vaccination prior to entry, capacity can increase up to 150 people indoors and up to 500 people outdoors. This announcement reopens larger outdoor performing arts centers permitting up to 20% of total capacity in large entertainment venues for concerts and other major performances.
What’s more, beginning March 29, statewide travel for sports and recreational activities will be permitted. Currently, travel for sports and recreation is limited to contiguous counties and regions in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidance.
On Wednesday, Cuomo announced indoor fitness classes can begin reopening statewide at 33% capacity, as of March 22, with health screening and contact information required at sign-in. He said classes should be scheduled to allow additional time for cleaning and disinfection between sessions. Local health departments shall inspect before or within two weeks of the fitness center opening to ensure compliance.
Beginning April 5, the 11 p.m. curfew currently in place for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiards halls, gyms and fitness centers will be lifted. The 11 p.m. curfew for food and beverage establishments and the midnight curfew for catered events will remain in effect. Both curfews will be evaluated in late-April.
"New York is moving forward with reopening our economy and looking forward to a post-COVID world," Cuomo said. "We know the vaccine is the weapon that defeats this invisible enemy and we are getting more shots in arms than ever before. As we reopen and an increasing number of New Yorkers receive their vaccines, it is more important than ever to continue the practices we know stop the spread of COVID-19. I encourage New Yorkers to continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands. We are reaching the light at the end of the tunnel and if we stay ‘New York Tough,’ we will get there together."