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NY sports arenas set to open

ALBANY — Large sports arenas and stadiums in New York can soon reopen at 10% of their normal capacity under a plan announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday.

Cuomo said major stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 people or more can reopen with limited spectators starting Feb. 23.

The Barclays Center has already received state approval to reopen Feb. 23 for the Brooklyn Nets’ home game against the Sacramento Kings.

Cuomo this year has stressed the need to reopen the economy, even as the state has seen a surge of COVID-19 infections this winter.

“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,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said all staff and spectators must receive a negative laboratory test within 72 hours of the event. It wasn’t clear Wednesday whether that deadline refers to when someone must be tested, or when someone receives the test result.

Stadiums must also mandate face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks on top of meeting air filtration standards and assigning socially distanced seating. The Department of Health didn’t say Wednesday how stadiums could ensure at least 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between spectators.

The governor’s announcement comes as the number of COVID-19 infections drops, but remains much higher than last fall or summer.

Meanwhile, New York has the nation’s highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita.

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