Meanwhile, indoor dining, Broadway and movie theaters remain closed across the state. High school, college, and professional football teams in the Empire State have had to delay games or play without fans throughout the year, with the exception of West Point games, which have been played on federal land. Thirteen other NFL teams nationwide also did not have fans at any home games this season.
The state also has banned many other gatherings this year, including ones planned for the outdoors.
To gain admission to the game, fans must first purchase a ticket and undergo COVID-19 testing 72 hours before the game. A company called BioReference will conduct testing in the parking lot of Bills Stadium for $63, which will be included in the price of the game ticket. Each fan must receive a negative test result to attend the game, and people who test positive for the virus can receive a refund for their ticket purchase. Tickets are not transferable.
New York state and its health department have worked with the Bills and the NFL to create the plan for allowing fan attendance. Attendees must wear masks at all times and practice social distancing. Tailgating will be prohibited.
"They have captured a certain energy and charisma that is effective," Cuomo said, in reference to the Bills. "We really have to take this seriously. We really don't want the fact that the Bills are in the playoffs to be a negative in terms of COVID."
Cuomo also said that the game's outdoor environment differs from indoor dining because it "is a much better situation from COVID spread."