A limited number of Buffalo Bills fans will be allowed to attend the team’s first home playoff game in 25 years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.
Attendance will be limited to 6,700 fans, and they will have to have negative Covid-19 tests before game time, Cuomo said. They’ll also have to socially distance and wear masks the entire game. The stadium has about 72,000 seats.
“This is a pilot to find ways we can smartly and safely reopen businesses,” Cuomo said.
Tail-gating will be banned, and fans who break any of the rules will be ejected from the stadium, he said. The state Department of Health will monitor fans afterward.
The Bills “have captured a certain energy and charisma that is infectious, but you have to be smart,” Cuomo said. “We don’t want the fact that the Bills are in the playoffs end up being a negative in terms of Covid.”
The Bills, with a record of 12-3, have clinched a playoff spot and have won the AFC East Division. They have one game remaining in the regular season, 1 p.m. Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
The NFL playoffs begin with wild card games the weekend of Jan. 9 and 10. It’s not clear when the Bills would play or who they will play until the regular season concludes this weekend.
Cuomo said the state Department of Health, the Bills and the NFL reached an agreement this week. Bioreference Laboratories will do the testing.
Cuomo said it’s too early to know if the same plan will be put in place if the Bills win the first game and continue in the playoffs.
“We have to test 7,000 people. We’ll have to see how compliance works. We have to watch the contact tracing,” he said. “If it works, great.”