New York City's major events and venues are coming back—at least that's the message Governor Andrew Cuomo wanted to convey on Monday. From the stage of Radio City Music Hall, he made a series of announcements ranging from the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival to the city's NBA playoffs to the future of venues offering 100% capacity for vaccinated patrons. He also confirmed that starting May 19th, New York state would follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance to allow vaccinated New Yorkers to forgo wearing masks in most indoor settings.
Radio City Music Hall owner James Dolan was alongside Cuomo at the press conference and said that the landmark venue would reopen at 100% capacity for vaccinated-only guests, who can ditch their masks. The reopening will coincide with the closing night of the Tribeca Film Festival on July 19th.
It was not clear how Radio City Musical Hall would incorporate ticket holders' vaccination status at this point, but Robert Mujica, senior advisor to Cuomo, noted that people could use their CDC vaccination cards, or the Excelsior Pass in either its app form or a printout from the Excelsior Pass website.
Cuomo said that the Knicks and Nets would allow unvaccinated fans, but will pilot vaccinated, maskless sections at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center during the playoffs, much like the Islanders are doing for their playoff run and the Mets and Yankees are doing during the regular season.
However, while the Mets and Yankees appear to be placing vaccinated fans in nosebleed sections, Dolan, who also owns the Knicks and Madison Square Garden, said that while plans for MSG weren't settled yet, that vaccinated spectators would have a better chance of getting tickets than unvaccinated fans.
"We have slowed down on the vaccinations, and that's a problem. We have to get more vaccinations," Cuomo said. While the state was offering incentives like the seven-day MetroCard or Long Island Rail or Metro-North ticket, he said they needed to find more incentives. "Here's another incentive, nothing to do with government: Private venues, I encourage them to have a high percentage available for vaccinated people. Radio City is going to be 100%, I encourage that, because that's an incentive for people to get vaccinated... In some ways, I think the private sector can offer more effective incentives than government can."
He added, "If you're unvaccinated, that's your choice, but you can't go into the Radio City Music Hall with vaccinated people."