Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that most capacity restrictions for businesses, restaurants and cultural venues would be lifted by May 19th. While stadiums and arenas such as Citi Field and Yankees Stadium were set at a much more conservative 33% capacity, Cuomo announced a major shift in that policy during a press briefing on Wednesday: starting May 19th, both baseball stadiums will be able to increase capacity by splitting their seating between vaccinated and unvaccinated fans.
The stadiums will be allowed 100% capacity for fully vaccinated fans in certain sections, while also keeping part of their stadiums reserved for unvaccinated fans at 33% capacity—these fans are still subject to the CDC six foot social distancing guideline. Cuomo also said that the previous stadium policy, which allowed people in who had proof of a recent negative COVID test, will be thrown out.
Masks will still be required in stadiums in both sections. Children under 16, who aren’t eligible for vaccine shots currently, will be allowed to accompany their families to vaccinated sections.
In addition, to encourage people to get vaccinated, Cuomo unvaccinated fans will be able to get a Johnson & Johnson shot at both stadiums before a game: “You’re going to the game anyway, it’s on your way, stop and get a vaccine,” he said. And the cherry on top: if you get the shot there, you get a free ticket to a future Mets or Yankees game.
When you do, you’ll get a free ticket.
So if you love baseball (& protecting your community) — go to a game, get vaccinated & get a free ticket!
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 5, 2021
Some of the details are still being ironed out—like how exactly the seating will be divided up—but Yankees president Randy Levine said more information would be put on the teams’ website soon.
“Basically, you come to the game, take a vaccine shot, get a voucher, go to that game, if that game’s sold out you can go the next night or go to a game of your choice,” Levine said. “We’re all in on this, we’re excited to be a part of this, we’re excited to have more and more fans in the building because our players love it, we love it, and it gives New Yorkers a chance to get back to normal.”
Asked about the legality of having separate sections for vaccinated people, Cuomo argued that this new policy did not amount to segregation, and compared it to similar restaurant capacity requirements and rules.
“You have no right to have to sit next to another person, that’s what it comes down to,” Cuomo said. “If you’re in an unvaccinated section, there’s no one sitting next to you. If you’re in a vaccinated section, someone is sitting next to you. So you’d have to argue, ‘No, I demand a seat where someone is sitting next to me and you’re infringing on my right by not allowing me to sit next to someone.'”
“What is the complaint? I don’t want the seat next to me empty?”
And Cuomo reassured that unvaccinated people won’t be punished with bad seats: “It’s not like you get the nosebleed seat because you’re unvaccinated and the vaccinated people get the better seats,” he said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
The new rules on stadiums will also apply to other minor league baseball teams around the state.
NY’s new stadium capacity limits — 100% in vaccinated sections; 33% in non-vaccinated sections — also apply to the Blue Jays in Buffalo and minor-league teams throughout the state, according to @melissadderosa. https://t.co/7R9b8DJRlP
— Jon Campbell (@JonCampbellGAN) May 5, 2021