Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that large sporting venues, with a capacity of 10,000 people or more, can reopen at 10 percent capacity in New York state. 

Following the model of the Buffalo Bills pilot program, Cuomo says venues can begin reopening with limited spectators on Feb. 23.

According to the state, in order to reopen, venues must follow safety guidelines, including obtaining approval from the Department of Health, instituting a 10 percent capacity limit, ensuring all staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the event, and meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation, and purification standards.

Venues must also mandate face coverings, social distancing, and temperature checks for all those in attendance. Collecting contact tracing information from all those in attendance for contact tracing purposes will also be required by the sites.

Cuomo, in today’s press conference, said that venues must enforce assigned, socially distanced seating, and ensure that any retail, food services, and athletic activities at the venue follow state-issued guidance.

“While we continue to fight COVID on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently and in a balanced way,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Live sports and entertainment have long been ingrained 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 says that this initiative will not only help local economies but also “help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”

The New York Islanders issued a statementannouncing their excitement for having hockey fans back at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The New York Islanders say they’ll be back at the Coliseum “as soon as possible” and that the health and safety of their fans and staff remain their top priority.

“I’m thrilled that Islanders fans will be able to safely rock the Barn again,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “Gov. Cuomo reopening arenas is a big step towards New York’s safe return to normal, and the reopening of the Coliseum means so much for Nassau. We know virus risk is dramatically reduced with precautions in place and rules being followed. I’m confident that we’re ready to do this safely and smoothly.”

Top: Islanders game at Nassau Coliseum from January 2020, credit to @nycblive on Instagram.