The Warriors‘ proposal to open Chase Center at 50% capacity for the upcoming season has been rejected by San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, according to Trisha Thadani and Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle.
However, the department displayed a willingness to work with the team to have some fans at home games. A letter sent by Health Officer Tomás Aragón states that the Warriors can accommodate 25% of the arena’s capacity, about 4,500 people, if San Francisco returns to California’s “yellow tier” of COVID-19 case rates.
Golden State’s plan would have been the first of its kind in the country and would have included coronavirus testing for all fans who entered the arena. However, it was met with skepticism as California undergoes its fastest rise in virus cases since the start of the pandemic.
“I cannot approve a plan for live audiences at indoor sporting events at this time,” Aragón wrote in his letter to the team. “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.”
The Warriors were planning to use PCR testing, rather than antigen testing, explained George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at UCSF who is advising the team. Golden State was considering sending test kits to season-ticket holders, allowing them to take a sample at home and drop it off at the arena. Rapid-results tests would also have been available outside the Chase Center.
“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,” Aragón added in the letter. “These risks remain high even with pre-event testing in place given the possibility of false negatives or individuals contracting the virus in the 48 hour-period after they are tested.”
In an email to the Chronicle, Warriors officials stated that they will continue to work with health officials “as we collectively adapt to evolving conditions.”