New York will allow arenas, stadiums, and large music venues to reopen next week after a longtime closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Large-scale venues that hold more than 10,000 people will be allowed to reopen on Feb. 23 at 10% capacity, Gov. Cuomo said during a news conference last week. Attendees will have to complete mandatory COVID-19 PCR testing and sit in socially distanced, assigned seats.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn was one of the first venues to be approved to reopen and will welcome fans back to watch the Brooklyn Nets take on the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 23.

“While we’re doing vaccines and while we’re controlling the spread of COVID, we also have to at the same time get this economy open intelligently and in a balanced way,” Cuomo said. “This hits the balance of safe reopening.”

Barclays Center


Any venue that wishes to welcome fans will have to submit a plan to the state’s Department of Health for approval, Cuomo added.

The decision follows an experiment with the Buffalo Bills in which Cuomo allowed the stadium to welcome 7,000 fans — all tested prior to coming — for the NFL playoffs. Cuomo called that effort an “unparalleled success.”

Following the announcement, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio said during an interview on WNYC he was “deeply concerned” about new coronavirus variants spreading.

“We need to keep our eyes focused on the data and the science,” de Blasio said, adding “I think there’s a way to bring people back safely. But again, you have to watch constantly for things that might change.”

The decision— which was praised by several New York sports teams, including the Knicks and the Yankees — comes as both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field have been turned into mass vaccination sites.

The announcement follows the reopening of indoor restaurants in New York City, which welcomed diners at 25% capacity ahead of Valentine’s Day. It also comes amid a plan to put on 300 pop-up performance events throughout the state while Broadway remains dark.