Health officials in San Francisco’s Department of Public Health have rejected a request from the Warriors to bring back thousands of fans to their games in the upcoming NBA season.
The city’s health department recently refused to allow the Warrior’s plan to bring 9,000 spectators to their upcoming NBA games. However, officials pledged that they will work with the team to host fans at the Chase Center when the COVID-19 pandemic begins to see a downtrend.
In the Warrior’s proposal, officials said they planned to conduct coronavirus testing for all spectators ahead of their games over the eight months. The tests will cost the team at least $30 million.
UCSF epidemiology Professor George Rutherford, an adviser to the Warriors, said the team planned to use PCR testing. The Warriors also planned to send testing kits to ticket holders who were required to collect the needed samples at home and drop the testing kit at a central facility.
The Warriors also proposed that fans be allowed to take a coronavirus rapid-results test outside the Chase Center before they could attend the game.
The protocols would have marked a new phase in the return of spectators to the American sports scene. However, local officials said they were uncomfortable with the idea.
Tomas Aragon, a health officer for the department, wrote a letter to the Warriors. In the letter, he said there is a possibility that the team could host 25% capacity, or 4,500 fans, if San Francisco is placed in California state’s yellow tier of its reopening plan. The county had just been move two levels below the yellow tier to the restrictive red tier, San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Under the red tier—substantial level—counties record four to seven new cases daily per 100,000 residents, which means they have a coronavirus positivity rate of 5% to 8%. Under the second-most restrictive tier, some non-essential indoor businesses cannot operate.
Zoos and museums could only operate at 25% capacity under the substantial tier. Indoor restaurant dining rooms, gyms, and houses of worship can only open at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
Stores, indoor malls, retails, and libraries may accommodate 50% of their total capacity. They must keep common areas closed and food courts should have reduced capacity.
Ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, can be held indoors, but only accommodate 25% capacity or 100 people. Wedding receptions are not allowed.
Higher-education institutions can conduct in-person lectures and student gatherings, but only at 25% capacity. Student activities and extracurriculars should be held virtually when possible, Los Angeles Times reported.
“I cannot approve a plan for live audiences at indoor sporting events at this time. Indoor sports with spectators are not currently allowed under the State of California’s COVID-19 restrictions. Moreover, and more importantly, San Francisco is experiencing a rapid and significant surge in COVID-19 cases,” Aragon wrote.
“I appreciate the thought you have put into the preparation of a plan to test everyone who would be present in the stadium. But in the present circumstances, bringing thousands of individuals (and households) together — many of whom would travel from and return to other counties — creates too much risk of widespread transmission in transit and while visiting San Francisco,” he added.
Aragon said the Department of Public Health would soon establish communication with the Warriors to ask them for more information about their plan and begin working toward the goal.
The Warriors said they will continue to coordinate with city and state officials to “adapt to the evolving conditions” brought about by the coronavirus. The team’s season will open on December 22.