NEW YORK — Professional sports stadiums, venues and large outdoor performing arts spaces that hold more than 2,500 people can reopen statewide at 20% capacity starting next month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.
Outdoor sports stadiums and venues will resume games and professional sporting events at limited capacity starting April 1. All attendees must show proof of a recent negative PCR or rapid COVID-19 test, or coronavirus vaccination.
Regional sports venues that hold up to 1,500 people indoors or have an outdoor capacity of 2,500 people or more can also reopen at 10% indoor capacity and at 20% outdoors.
“As those numbers keep coming down, which we believe they will, you’ll see those capacity numbers go up,” Gov. Cuomo said during a press conference in his Manhattan office late Thursday morning.
State Coronavirus Task Force officials may increase crowd capacity as the state’s COVID-19 infection rate continues to decline to a seven-day average of 3.28%, down from a peak of 7.94% on Jan. 4 after the holiday surge.
The state Health Department will release detailed guidance that stadiums and large performing arts spaces must follow to reopen. Health Department officials will re-evaluate testing and vaccination entry requirements in May. They may be discontinued in mid-May if the public health situation continues to improve, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Attendees must wear masks or face coverings, maintain social distancing and comply with state-required health screening.
Reporters were allowed to digitally attend Cuomo’s Thursday COVID-19 briefing on a Zoom call, but were not permitted to ask him questions. Only about four reporters each have been allowed to ask the governor questions at a few telephone calls with the press. Executive Chamber press aides have grown increasingly less responsive to inquiries over the last several weeks.
Cuomo has recently skipped several regular coronavirus briefings as the state Assembly Judiciary Committee begin an impeachment probe and state Attorney General Letitia James investigates sexual harassment and misconduct claims against the governor from several former and current Executive Chamber employees. Federal prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Justice continue to investigate Cuomo and his administration’s underreporting of COVID-19 nursing home deaths for several months and early pandemic restrictions in congregate facilities.
Yankee Stadium can hold 10,850 fans at 20% capacity, with Citi Field permitted to host 8,384 fans to start at events. COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be administered at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field throughout the season. The Yankees’ home opener is April 1.
“We’re going to play ball and we’re going to play ball with a crowd which I tell you is just so good for the psyche,” Cuomo said. “Getting out of the house, getting out of the apartment, getting out of this entrapment that we’ve been in and going to a game and getting outside and seeing a new season start and just hope springs eternal.”
Thursday’s changes follow several announcements the governor made of loosening COVID-19 restrictions over the last two weeks, including lifting the 10-day mandatory quarantine on domestic flights beginning April 1.
The statewide 11 p.m. curfew will be lifted April 5 for casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, billiard halls, gyms and fitness centers, Cuomo said Wednesday.
The state’s 11 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants and 12 a.m. curfew for catered events remain in effect.
“We’re evaluating both now and we will have an announcement on them in April,” Cuomo said Wednesday.
More than 7.1 million New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, or about 24% of the state population. Roughly 12.4% of New Yorkers have completed the immunization, according to the governor’s office.
COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline to 4,582 New Yorkers, down 88 people, and a consecutive flattening from a peak of 8,991 people Jan. 21.
The state reported 57 New York residents died Wednesday from coronavirus complications, bringing the total confirmed fatalities to 39,748 people.
“But it’s coming to an end,” Cuomo said. “Spring is upon us. Seasons change. Times change. Spring is upon us and spring is a new season and it is a new attitude and that’s where we are and we have to start thinking spring.”