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Play Ball, with fans! New York sports teams can host limited crowds beginning in February

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s stadiums and arenas with at least a 10,000-seat capacity will be permitted to reopen at 10 percent capacity.

For the Yankees, that means having a few thousand fans in the stands again, beginning with their scheduled April 1 opener against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. “Governor Cuomo’s announcement today is an encouraging first step,” the Yankees said in a statement released Wednesday. Face coverings, temperature checks and social distancing will be observed at all sites. The state’s guidelines include that all staff and spectators must receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event. According to the Yankees statement, “The safety of everyone who enters Yankee Stadium remains our top priority, and we will work diligently and in lock-step with the governor to ensure all precautions and procedures are being followed as we lead up to the 2021 baseball season.”

The Mets are scheduled to host the Miami Marlins in their April 8 home opener. Both of New York’s MLB clubs played in empty ballparks during the abbreviated 60-game 2020 season due to the pandemic. New York’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate had dropped to 4.38 percent as of Tuesday, its lowest percent since Dec. 1.

“It’s an encouraging first step toward us potentially welcoming fans back to Citi Field,” the Mets said in a statement. “We look forward to working with government officials to ensure that the return to the ballpark is safe and convenient for our fans.” The New York Rangers and Knicks (Madison Square Garden), Brooklyn Nets (Barclays Center) and Buffalo Sabres (KeyBank Center) will be the first of the state’s pro teams to host fans. Last month, the Buffalo Bills were permitted to allow 7,000 fans at their stadium for an NFL playoff game. The success of that event led to Wednesday’s announcement.

“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.

“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.”

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