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NY venues that ask for proof of vax can fully reopen

New York venues are now permitted to return to full capacity, instead of one-third full, if they require patrons to show proof of vaccination.

Major venues including Madison Square Garden (MSG) and Radio City Hall have already announced plans that centre around attendees who have been fully vaccinated.

Radio City Hall (cap 6,015) is set to reopen on 19 June at full capacity, exclusively for citizens who have been fully vaccinated, which counts for 44.6% of New Yorkers.

The news was announced by New York City governor Andrew Cuomo last week (17 May), during a conference held inside the music hall.

“Having Radio City back at 100%, without masks, with people enjoying New York, and the New York arts, is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state,” he said.

“This is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state”

James Dolan, executive chairman of the MSG Company, which owns Radio City Music Hall, confirmed the venue is set to remain open and operate as usual beyond 19 June.

It’s not clear how the venue would check people’s vaccination status, but it’s likely that the Excelsior Pass will be used.

The app, launched by New York state, verifies proof of Covid-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination with art and entertainment venues and businesses by using a scannable QR code. It was tested during the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Centre on 27 February and during the New York Rangers game on 2 March at MSG.

Yesterday (23 May), MSG welcomed 15,000 fans to watch the first round of the NBA playoffs, marking the largest indoor gathering for New York state since the start of the pandemic.

Last week, governor Cuomo announced that the city’s basketball teams, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, would have fully vaccinated fan sections, increasing the capacity at MSG and the Barclays Centre.

According to Dolan, almost 90% of last night’s audience had been vaccinated and therefore, were not required to socially distance or wear masks when seated.

“The public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love”

“I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love,” said Dolan.

“This overwhelming response by Knicks fans – almost 90% of whom are vaccinated – should silence any doubters. It’s time to start booking events and filling up our schedules, so stay tuned. We want to thank governor Cuomo for this leap forward; he knew we could do this – not just for us, but for New York.”

New York treads a similar path as Israel, which requires citizens to be doubly vaccinated to gain access to concerts, gyms, swimming pools, theatres and hotels.

Israelis’ vaccination status is verified by the Green Pass – a certificate issued by the ministry of health showing they had received both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior to the event or that they had recovered from Covid-19 and were presumed immune.

The ethical implications of implementing vaccine passports have been hotly debated around the world. Last week, in IQ’s first-ever Recovery Sessions, a number of experts hailing from Tel Aviv to London debated the topics of test certificates and vaccine passports.

IQ subscribers can watch the Recovery Sessions on-demand here.

 


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NY stadiums, arenas permitted to reopen

New York governor Andrew Cuomo will allow major stadiums and arenas to reopen with a capacity of 10% from 23 February.

The guidelines for reopening will be based on the testing pilot programme conducted by the NFL team Buffalo Bills at the weekend, in which 6,700 fans who presented negative tests, and agreed to contact tracing, attended the game socially distanced

In order for stadiums and arenas to reopen at 10%, all fans and staff planning to attend an event will need to provide a negative PCR test within the 72 hours prior. Fans must also be temperature checked upon entering a venue and will be required to wear face coverings while in attendance.

Indoor arenas must observe enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards, as well as socially distanced seating configurations. The permission applies to stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more.

The Barclays Center (cap. 19,000) in Brooklyn has already announced plans for their first event and will welcome fans back to the arena on 23 February for a basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.

“While we continue to fight Covid on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy reopened intelligently and in a balanced way,” said governor Cuomo.

“While we continue to fight Covid on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently”

“Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus.

“Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”

Cuomo has also announced that the state will host concerts for the first time in a year as part of the New York Arts Revival programme he announced in January.

More than 300 pop-up gigs will take place between 20 February and 6 September (Labor Day) at venues including the Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, La Mama, and Alice Busch Opera Theatre.

The governor says the gigs will visit flexible venues with no fixed seating so event formats can be reconfigured to allow adequate social distancing.

In January, Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to US president Joe Biden, predicted that live performances could resume this autumn, depending on how widely the Covid-19 vaccine can be distributed by then.

Fauci suggested that if between 70% and 85% of the US population would have to be vaccinated, venues with good ventilation and proper air filters could open without social distancing – though some theatres may ask audience members to continue to wear masks.

 


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Safe & Sound promoter fined $20,000

The promoter of a New York drive-in concert event that went viral for the lack of social distancing among audience members has been handed a US$20,000 fine.

Via the New York department of health, the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has charged In the Know Experiences with violating public health laws by holding a non-essential gathering and failing to enforce mask wearing at Safe & Sound Hamptons, which took place near Southampton on Saturday 25 July.

The show, headlined by the Chainsmokers, was accused of “egregious social distancing violations” after video from the event showed attendees leaving their cars and dancing in close proximity to one another.

“We will continue to hold people and businesses accountable for their actions”

“The Chainsmokers concert promoter is charged today with violating an executive order and section 16 of the Public Health Law,” says Cuomo. “As I said immediately following reports of this event, it was an egregious violation of the critical public health measures we have had in place since the beginning of this pandemic to protect New Yorkers from Covid-19.

“We will continue to hold people and businesses accountable for their actions and the local governments must enforce the rules or else we will hold them accountable as well.”

Other performers at Safe & Sound, which had space for around 600 cars, included DJ D-Sol, Matt White and a band fronted by Southampton’s town supervisor, Jay Schneiderman. Tickets for the upmarket event cost up to $25,000, with profits going to local charities.

 


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Chainsmokers show investigated for lack of social distancing

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, says the US state’s health authorities will investigate a drive-in concert featuring the Chainsmokers, held last weekend, for alleged social distancing violations.

In the Know Experiences’ Safe & Sound Hamptons, which took place near Southampton, New York, on Saturday 25 July, had capacity for around 600 cars, and also featured performances by DJ D-Sol and Southampton’s town supervisor, Jay Schneiderman’s, band.

While organisers say the show followed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, according to Reuters, Cuomo is not convinced, claiming video from the event shows “egregious social distancing violations” on the part of attendees, many of whom appeared to have left their cars:

Cuomo, who says he is “appalled” by the video, has ordered the New York Department of Health to conduct an investigation into the show.

According to In the Know, a luxury travel company, the Hamptons concert is the first in a planned series of drive-in concerts taking place “throughout the USA”.

Tickets for the event cost between US$1,250 and $25,000, with profits going to several local charities.

 


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