Sports arenas begin reopening in New York City

New York City eases COVID restrictions at arenas
New York City eases COVID restrictions at are... 02:29

Last Updated Feb 23, 2021 7:05 PM EST

Tuesday was a turning point for New York City, the epicenter of the first deadly wave of COVID-19. Fans are allowed in sports arenas for the first time in nearly a year. 

The New York policy allows 10% capacity in stadiums, so there will be about 2,000 fans in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night when the New York Knicks face off against the Golden State Warriors. Attendees will have their temperatures checked and must wear masks inside. 

At Brooklyn's Barclays Center, 300 people will be scattered in red-marked seats after receiving a negative test result for the Brooklyn Nets vs. Sacramento Kings game. 

Movie theaters are up next. They can open on March 5. 

The slow return to normal comes as New York City says the more contagious U.K. variant now makes up triple the number of cases compared to January. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, has said he is worried about complacency. He warned masks may be necessary into 2022. "In order to be extra safe, we may have to wear masks under certain circumstances. I'm not trying to scare people but we could have another surge," he said. 

Madison Square Garden
New York Knicks and New York Rangers join together to welcome fans back to Madison Square Garden.  MSG Sports via AP

Meanwhile, despite vaccine stumbling blocks, executives from the nation's leading COVID-19 vaccine makers signaled a turnaround is coming.  "We're on track to make 120 million doses available for shipment by the end of March," said John Young, the chief business officer at Pfizer. 

Dr. Stephen Hoge, the president of Modern, said the company is "targeting delivery of the second 100-million doses of our vaccine by the end of May." 

In all, the drugmakers say 140 million doses will be delivered just in the next five weeks. More than 44 million Americans have had at least one shot and more than 19 million are fully vaccinated. 

But vaccine disparity for communities that need them the most persists. 

"People don't understand, you don't have CVS stores and Giants, and markets over large sections of certain African American communities. They don't exist," said Walter Thomas, the pastor of New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore. 

  • Nikki Battiste
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    Nikki Battiste is a CBS News correspondent based in New York.