ALBANY – The fans can return to college sports in New York.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced that collegiate sports can bring fans back to the stands starting Friday.
Large-scale venues that hold more than 1,500 people indoors can go to 10% capacity, while outdoor venues that can host more than 2,500 attendees can go to 20% capacity.
Fans have to present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test result or show they have completed COVID-19 immunization prior to entry.
And colleges and universities hosting spectators at large-scale venues must notify and coordinate with the state or local health departments about the events and follow state guidelines for spectator sports, such as social distancing and mask wearing.
For small college venues, they can have two fans per player or up to 100 attendees indoors or 200 people outdoors. But they can increase capacity if everyone who attends has a negative COVID test or is immunized.
“College athletics not only provide opportunities for entertainment and community pride, but also plays a critical role in helping drive local economies,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The COVID protocols include the social distancing, face coverings and health screening upon arrival.
And all retail, food services and athletic activities around the games must also follow existing state guidance.
College officials praised the change.
“The presence of spectators at sporting events has always been a quintessential part of the collegiate experience — both for the athletes and the students, parents, and community members who root them on,” SUNY chancellor Jim Malatras said in a statement.
Still, the change comes amid growing warnings from national health experts that the COVID pandemic is not yet over, urging people to stay diligent with their precautions.
In fact, federal and state data showed that infection rates in New York last week rose faster than any state in the nation.
Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network’s Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany
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