Whether or not they make it to the Super Bowl, the Buffalo Bills have already pulled off a miracle victory: persuading
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
to let 6,700 fans attend their playoff game next weekend.
The Bills have won the AFC East division for the first time in 25 years and will host their first home playoff game since 1996. Buffalo could use the morale boost. It sure hasn’t received one from the billions of dollars Mr. Cuomo has spent trying to revive the western New York economy.
Mr. Cuomo has kept Bill fans locked out of the stadium all season, though 13 other NFL stadiums have allowed limited numbers to attend games. There has been only one report of a fan testing positive after an NFL game. Yet in November Mr. Cuomo proclaimed it would be “reckless” to let any fans into a stadium that could seat nearly 72,000.
Perhaps feeling the holiday spirit or pressure from upstate voters, Mr. Cuomo has reversed course. “We’re all feeling the excitement,” Mr. Cuomo said Wednesday. “We’ve all wanted the Buffalo Bills to be good, it’s been a long time, and that team has a charisma and personality that is infectious.”
The Governor’s plan requires all fans to be tested before the game and wear masks. The state also plans to hold drive-through rapid testing at the stadium, which he says would be a pilot for reopening businesses and live events.
“This is not just about attending a football game,” Mr. Cuomo said. “We are trying to find a way to reopen businesses.” If it works there, he added, “can you do Madison Square Garden? Could you do a theater on Broadway? Could you do a certain capacity in a restaurant, so restaurants could start to reopen safely?”
We can’t “start 2021 with the expectation that the economy will reopen when the vaccine hits critical mass,” he noted. “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.”
For months Mr. Cuomo has needlessly shut down businesses despite precautions to operate safely. But we’re glad he may be seeing the light now, even if it took a football game.
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