New York venues will be permitted to reopen at full-capacity, provided they are hosting a fully vaccinated audience, according to an announcement by New York City governor Andrew Cuomo.
Large venues including Madison Square Garden have confirmed reopening plans will offer tickets only to those who have received full vaccinations. This currently accounts for 44.6% of all those living in the city. Radio City Music Hall, with a capacity of more than 6,000, intends on doing the same when it reopens on 19th June.
“Having Radio City back at 100%, without masks, with people enjoying New York, and the New York arts, is going to be not only symbolic and metaphoric; but I think it’s going to go a long way toward bringing back this state,” said Cuomo.
The process of entry under these new rules has not been confirmed, but a report on IQ Magazine suggests the free Excelsior Pass could be used to determine vaccination status. The app was launched by New York State, and uses QR codes to verify proof of either vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests with art and entertainment venues. It was trialled at a Brooklyn Nets basketball game on 27th February, and again at a New York Rangers hockey game on 2nd March.
New York's largest indoor gathering since the start of the pandemic took place on Sunday 23rd May, when 15,000 hit Madison Square Garden for the first round of the NBA Playoffs. According to James Dolan, executive chairman of the parent company, 90% of the crowd were vaccinated and no social distancing or mask wearing was required. "I hope everyone in sports and entertainment is listening because the public has spoken – they are fine with getting vaccinated and want to get back to the experiences they love,” he said.
Currently, venues in New York are subject to strict limits on capacity. Large indoor venues can only operate at 30 per cent, an increase from the 10 per cent maximum in place until 19th May. For outdoor events, capacities are set at 33 per cent.