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Cuomo: Bills Fans May Be Able To Attend Playoff Game

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo with bills logo
https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/49701753947/ (Altered by Jackie Orchard)
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo has a pre-holiday message for New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic: It’s OK to celebrate, but to do it smartly to help prevent the spread of infections.

Cuomo also announced that some fans might be allowed into Buffalo’s Bills Stadium for an upcoming playoff game.

Cuomo is not advising any new limits on Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s gatherings. The state’s current rules restrict indoor gatherings to 10 or fewer people. He did advise people to practice social distancing and wear masks and open windows and take walks to increase time in the fresh air. He said those steps can tamp down a post-holiday surge of the virus.

“Holiday season is 10 days,” Cuomo said. “What we do in the next 10 days is going to be key. Let’s be smart.”

The governor said he also remains concerned about a new, more contagious strain of the virus discovered in the United Kingdom, and he continued to call for the federal government to impose testing requirements on air passengers arriving in New York.

Meanwhile, Cuomo offered some hope for Buffalo Bills fans. He said his health department is working with the team to devise a safe plan to allow a limited number of spectators into the upcoming playoff game. It would limit the stadium capacity to 6,700 fans and employ rapid testing of fans before the game and contact tracing afterward.  

Masks would be required, and fans who don’t wear them would be asked to leave.

Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, said while officials can control the behavior of fans in the stadium, it’s more difficult to control crowds outside of the venue. He addressed an incident early Sunday, where around 3,000 fans gathered at the Buffalo airport to greet the team as they flew in after they clinched the playoff slot. Many fans did not wear masks or practice social distancing. 

“The ancillary events, the parties, are where this virus can spread,” said Zucker. “The events at the airport are a classic example.”  

Cuomo said he hopes the limited-access plan for Bills fans could become a model to open other large venues for gatherings in 2021, even before the majority of New Yorkers receive the vaccine.