Sports venues that can hold at least 1,500 people indoors or 2,500 people outdoors can reopen on April 1, Cuomo said. Capacity indoors is 10% and outdoors will be 20%. The limits mean the Yankees can have about 10,000 fans in the Bronx, while the Mets in Queens can have about 8,000. The Yankees open their season April 1 against the Toronto Blue Jays. The Mets’ home opener is April 8 versus the Miami Marlins.
Both New York City stadiums had been converted to vaccination facilities in recent weeks. Cuomo said 7 million vaccine doses have been administered in the state. Nearly 24% of state residents have received at least one shot, and 12% are fully vaccinated.
In order to attend baseball games, fans must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test and also follow guidelines Cuomo described as “strict.” The protocols include mask wearing and social distancing. The presence of fans will be embraced by TV networks, which saw ratings last season fall off a cliff, in part due to the dispiriting aesthetics of carboard cutouts and tarps covering seats.
The reopening news is a welcome change from last baseball season. Most of the 2020 campaign was wiped out by the pandemic and fans only started to be allowed back in during neutral-site postseason games in October.
Cuomo has continued to emphasize the state’s progress on Covid-19 and has gone several days without having a press conference during which he took questions from press. A number of powerful Democrats both in state and federal government have called on Cuomo to resign. The three-term governor has been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct by six women, though Cuomo has denied the charges.
Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center have begun welcoming limited numbers of fans back for basketball and hockey in recent weeks. New York has taken a more conservative path with its public spaces compared with states like Texas, Florida and Missouri, where stadiums were 15% full as of last summer. Cuomo used the Buffalo Bills’ home playoff games in January to usher in the days of fans attending games in person, with an aggressive testing and tracing program in place.