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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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Sports pave the way for large-scale events

Sport is leading the way for large-scale events, drawing visitors by the tens of thousands whilst complying with coronavirus restrictions.

Last Sunday (20 September), one of Poland’s premier football clubs, Lech Poznan, set a new record for the biggest crowd to attend a sporting event in Europe since March – selling 17,000 tickets.

Poznań Stadium operated at just under 50% of its usual capacity of 42,837 for the match in order to comply with Polish regulation, which currently states that every second seat in the audience can be made available to the public, alternately in rows, but not exceeding 50% of the total number of seats.

In Australia, the New South Wales (NSW) government recently announced that major sporting events at selected Sydney stadiums can increase crowds from 25% to 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 40,000 spectators, from 1 October.

Selected stadiums include Stadium Australia (cap. 83,500), Bankwest Stadium (30,000) and Sydney Cricket Ground (48,000), which will be permitted to host ticketed and seated-only events under Coronavirus protocol.

Each stadium will also be required to employ a unique chequerboard seating arrangement – which will be divided into different zones to avoid mixing – and a ticket allocation process that will ensure the social distancing of participants when seated.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety, however it is no secret we’re also focused on firing up the economy”

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of the people of NSW, however it is no secret we’re also focused on firing up the economy,” said NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“Safely allowing more fans at in-demand major sporting events will bring enjoyment, employment and help stimulate the NSW economy.”

This decision will benefit the National Rugby League for games in its Premiership finals and State of Origin.

Elsewhere, the Turkish Formula 1 grand prix sold more than 40,000 tickets in six hours last Wednesday – an astounding number for Covid times and yet a fraction of the 100,000 tickets organisers hope to sell for the race at Istanbul Park circuit.

According to Intercity chairman Vural Ak, a socially distanced six-figure crowd can easily be accommodated with the track at less than half its capacity. “We know the capacity of this track,” he told reporters at a press conference earlier this month. “Around 220,000 spectators can watch the race in the grandstands and in the open areas.

“At the moment, for safety reasons, if we close some sections, about 100,000 spectators will be able to watch the race by following social distancing rules.”


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