Cuomo hypocritically ignores lockdowns, plans to attend Bills playoff game to help ‘reopen’ economy
While Gov. Cuomo (D-NY) is imposing stringent lockdowns in his state, taking many small businesses under and keeping people from their loved ones, he has hypocritically decided on Wednesday that it is okay to attend the Bills first home playoff game in decades to help ‘reopen’ the economy. Cuomo will allow 6,700 fans, including himself, to attend the Buffalo Bills’ first playoff game in 24 years inside Bills Stadium on the weekend of Jan. 9-10.
Cuomo said the Bills playoff game would serve as an initial test of reopening his state while vaccinations remain relatively low.
“It can’t be that we start 2021 with the expectation that the economy will reopen when the vaccine hits critical mass,” which experts have estimated lies somewhere between 70-90% of the population vaccinated, the governor said at a press briefing. “We can’t take six months, nine months, 12 months, of a closed-down economy. We can’t take the economic cost, we can’t take the psychological cost, we can’t take the emotional cost.”
Cuomo said that the game would be a pilot test for a rapid COVID testing plan that the state will use as a guide to reopen businesses next year.
“Under the pilot, which was developed cooperatively between the Bills, New York State, and Bio-Reference Laboratories, 6,700 fans will be allowed to attend the game only after first obtaining a negative COVID-19 test result. Contact tracing will also be conducted after the game,” the governor’s office said in a press release. Bills Stadium is capable of seating nearly 72,000 fans.
Cuomo said that rapid testing is the only way New York can reopen.
“I don’t see a key to the door beyond this key. Really the only key you have is rapid testing. So we will be aggressive in exploring it, and that’s what we’re doing now,” Cuomo said, according to Politico. “If it works there, could you do Madison Square Garden? Could you do a theater on Broadway, could you do a certain capacity in a restaurant so restaurants can reopen safely? That is the road we are looking at.”
“I’m going to take my test, I’m going to be out there to watch the game with you,” he stated.
As the Bills explained in a press release: “Fans will be required to pay for their testing as part of their ticket purchase to cover all associated costs. Bioreference Laboratories is providing each test for fans at a reduced cost of $63. There will also be an additional cost of $11 for parking on game day. The $11 fee is per ticket.”
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) December 30, 2020
Earlier in December, Cuomo was excoriated for publicly stating that he would like to attend a Bills playoff game. This despite the fact that he has refused to let any Bills fans attend a game during their historic season at any point this year. He said he was seriously considering a plan to reopen a stadium for several thousand people so that he could attend the game.
Now, Cuomo has arrogantly announced his plan to reopen the stadium so thousands of fans, including himself, can attend the game. This has incensed many New Yorkers.
It was just two weeks ago that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (D) slammed Bills fans who wanted to attend the playoff game in person, saying you need to “get your priorities straight.” Poloncarz continued, “If somebody in that crowd was sick and they passed it on to other individuals and only increased our rates, they’re only hurting our opportunity to be able to actually put people in the stands. And what would happen if [star quarterback] Josh Allen got COVID?”
After making those statements, Poloncarz was reportedly “taken by surprise” by Cuomo’s announcement that the stadium would be reopened. But he didn’t publicly chastise Cuomo as he did with all the other Buffalo Bills fans. Poloncarz announced that Erie County will do everything they can to make Cuomo’s wishes come true: “It’s getting real close. We have to have a decision by midweek next week just so we know what we have to do for staffing and security purposes, and working with the other agencies we work with, state and federal, to ensure that it’s a safe and secure environment for our fans.”
Over 50 restaurant owners in Erie County are suing Cuomo so they can reopen and accommodate far smaller crowds than 6,700 people. In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the governor hypocritically stated, “We are moving heaven and earth to contain this virus and we know some people are unhappy, but better to be unhappy than sick or worse.” That evidently does not apply to a Bills game, only to small businesses that are the lifeblood of New York.