New York state is prepared to allow horse racing tracks and the Watkins Glen International auto racing track to re-open without fans as early as June 1.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the following statement this past Saturday:
“We can have economic activity without having a crowd, that’s great. We can do that in this state. But no crowds, no fans.”
Belmont Park on Long Island is one of several horse racing tracks that will be eligible to reopen along with Watkins Glen International, which was prepared to host a NASCAR race this August before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing guidelines.
The Belmont Stakes will now run June 20 and will be the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown for the first time.
“Remember, the problem here are crowds and gatherings,” Cuomo said.
COVID-19 spread is on the decline
The revitalization of the New York economy comes as the result of a decline in many major indicators such as new hospitalizations and virus-related deaths.
“It’s interesting to look at the curve, how fast we went up and now how relatively slow the decline has been,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Spike happens quickly, but resolves slowly.”
Sports venues resuming operations is just another step in the state’s reopening process that began this past Friday as five of the 10 New York regions were given the go-ahead to resume nonessential business.
Beachgoers were treated to some good news as well when the four neighboring states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware made the collective decision to reopen beaches and other waterfronts by Memorial Day weekend.
Local governments will still be required to enforce social distancing restrictions and reduced capacity.
Local governments will also be allowed to make their own decisions regarding opening beaches.
In New York City, where the decline in infection rate is much slower, beaches are set to remain closed.
Additional news from the Governor’s briefing
Elective surgery will be permitted to resume in Westchester and Suffolk counties. Hospitals have been suffering statewide from the economic impact of postponing these procedures.
Gov. Cuomo will seek federal funding to fill a $61 billion hole in the state budget and urged members of the Senate to support a $3 trillion bill that passed the House in Washington on Friday.
“We need funding, let’s put politics aside,” said Cuomo. Although, the bill has met Republican resistance and is unlikely to pass.
The number of coronavirus hospitalizations and patients diagnosed with symptoms has continued to decline. According to state data, about 6,220 people were hospitalized as of Saturday; 2,077 were in I.C.U.s and 1,674 were intubated.
Cuomo asks for sports to return with no fans
Gov. Cuomo has also asked major league sports teams to begin planning on how they will reopen or begin their seasons without fans, adding that the state is also willing to help with this task.
“New York state will help those major sports franchises to do just that,” Cuomo said during his daily news briefing. “Hockey, basketball, baseball, football, whoever can reopen we’re a ready, willing and able partner.”
Major League Baseball officials have said they are continuing to work with the players union on a plan to start the 2020 regular season. According to Associated Press reports, team owners signed off May 11 on a proposal to resume spring training in June to prepare for a July Opening Day.
The NFL has indicated it fully intends to start its upcoming season on time in September, after releasing the league schedule earlier this month.
The NBA has hinted at a restart to its season in select cities like Orlando and Las Vegas, but as of yet there is nothing in stone.
The NHL has seen some plans emerge for a possible 24-team format to restart its season, but as of yet, the NFL and MLB appear to be the only organizations with a plan in place to play games in home stadiums devoid of spectators.