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New York State to allow 25 percent capacity for playoffs, says Cuomo

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SPO-ARENA-BARCLAYS CENTER Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

Large indoor arenas like Barclays Center will be allowed to go to 25 percent capacity on May 19, just before the NBA playoffs begin, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

That will mean crowds of up to around 4,400 for NBA games at Barclays (slightly higher for Madison Square Garden). Until then, for the rest of the regular season, the Nets will remain at the 10 percent capacity established by the state in early February, meaning about 1,700 fans.

Cuomo said the change are linked to improving COVID-19 metrics. The seven-day average positivity rate in testing was 2.85% on Sunday, the lowest figure since November 13, he said. Statewide, 44 people died of the virus on Monday.

In an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Friday, John Abbamondi, CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center, said he was hopeful that the state would increase capacity for Barclays above the current 10 percent. He also presented his case for an increase, citing where other states are in terms of restrictions.

“The short answer is that we’re beholden to the state. We’re not setting the policies, we’re following them. and the policy here in New York State has been 10 percent capacity. Now, I’ll take the opportunity to opine. I think that capacity can be safely be raised. I’ve spoken to people at the department of Health who agree but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly.

“The situation here in New York, while still very serious, has improved dramatically over the last couple of months. We’re now at a point where 40 percent of the state has received at least one shot. Another 10 percent has had COVID. So 50 percent of our population in New York has some degree of immunity and one in four New Yorkers is fully vaccinated. So we’re at ten percent with testing and vaccine required. New Jersey and Philadelphia are at 20 percent with no testing required and no vaccine required. California is at 35 percent. So it’s not just the red states. We believe it’s time to increase the capacity restrictions. We think we’ve proven we can safely return fans with these controls in place. We have a 670,000 square foot building so having 1,600 - 1,700 people is extraordinarily conservative and we hope the state will soon agree.”

No word yet on ticketing for the playoffs. No word as well about capacity limits for the New York Liberty whose games begin May 14.