NY to allow horse racing tracks to reopen June 1 without fans
New York will allow horse racing tracks and Watkins Glen International car track to reopen in the coming weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday -- but there will be no fans in the seats.
"No crowds, no fans," Cuomo said.
The move will take effect on June 1 and further guidance will be released in coming weeks, Cuomo said.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran says the move allows the "beloved" racetrack at Belmont Park to reopen.
In a statement, New York Racing Association CEO and President Dave O'Rourke praised the decision.
“NYRA and the New York racing community are thankful for Gov. Cuomo’s steady leadership throughout this public health crisis and we applaud his decision to authorize the resumption of horse racing, without fans, beginning on June 1,” O’Rourke's statement said in part. “This is a reasoned and responsible decision by Gov. Cuomo that will enable horse racing to resume in a way that prioritizes health and safety while recognizing that NYRA is the cornerstone of an industry responsible for 19,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual economic impact. We look forward to the resumption of live racing at Belmont Park with all appropriate health and safety protocols in place to support the hundreds of small businesses, family-owned farms and thousands of hourly workers who form the backbone of thoroughbred racing in New York."
It marks the latest effort to adapt to a new normal as the state grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
At his daily briefing, Cuomo also said he could even envision a return of Major League Baseball in New York, also without fans. “If it works economically, that would be great,” he said.
The announcements came as hospitalizations, new cases and deaths across the country’s hardest-hit state have continued to flatten or tick down, he said.
There were 157 deaths reported since Friday, encouraging news compared to early April when the daily death toll was topping 700. The state’s overall toll now stands at nearly 22,500.
But Cuomo cautioned that the state could see a rise in cases as the economy opens up. To avoid another spike, people will still need to take precautions like social distancing, he said.
“People are going to be coming out of their homes,” he said. “How do they act when they come out? … If people are smart you will see some increase in numbers, but you won’t see a spike.”
Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.
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