A pandemic will not stop the Buffalo Bills from opening stadium gates for a playoff game for the first time in 24 years.
Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that 6,700 fans will be allowed inside Bills Stadium on the weekend of Jan. 9-10 for the Bills’ first home playoff game since Dec. 28, 1996. It is the first step in a first-in-the-nation pilot program launched by New York aimed at “re-opening businesses safely” during COVID-19, according to Cuomo, who said he will be attending the game.
The plan developed by the state, the Department of Health, the Bills and the NFL, calls for fans to show proof of testing negative for COVID-19 by a PCR test administered 72 hours before the game at a reduced cost to the fan of $63 plus $11 for parking.
“A football playoff game is outdoors, which is a much better situation from COVID spread,” Cuomo said. “We believe we are the first state in the nation to run this kind of pilot. We think it can be very instructive to us going forward.“
Tailgating will remain banned. Cuomo recognized the importance of the Bills hosting their first playoff game since 1995 to the western New York community, but also pleaded with the community to remain vigilant.
“For all the Bills fans, please, everyone take these measures seriously,” he said. “We have made progress on the COVID virus over the past few weeks. The numbers are down — we want to keep them down.”
“Be safe, be smart, and most importantly, be loud,” Bills owner Terry Pegula said.
Updated on Wednesday, New York has had more than 950,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 37,256 deaths, with 12,020 new cases and at least 138 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday alone, according to The New York Times’s coronavirus database.