New York Live Event Return Guide | COVID-19

It’s been almost a year since a live event took place in the state of New York. At long last, live events are eligible to return with fans at games of the Brooklyn Nets, Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, New York Knicks and New York Rangers starting on February 23rd!

Capacity at the events will be set at 10% to start and there are several health and safety protocols that fans need to be aware of before attending the game. There will be some variance in protocols between Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Nassau Coliseum and KeyBank Center. But the following guidelines must be adhered to at all venues per the State of New York:

  • 10% capacity limit in arenas and stadiums
  • All staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event
  • Mandate face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks for all those in attendance
  • Mandate assigned, socially distanced seating
  • Collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts
  • Meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards
  • Ensure retail, food services and athletic activities abide by all state-issued guidance

Of all the guidelines, the negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event is most significant. New York is currently the only state requiring negative tests to attend live events, which may make things a bit more burdensome for those interested in attending.

Where to Get Quick COVID-19 PCR Tests for Live Events?

The most crucial aspects of COVID-19 testing for live events is speed and cost. There are plenty of options out there currently for rapid testing, which returns results within 15 minutes, but tests must be PCR to ensure accuracy. PCR tests typically have longer turnaround times, and the same day ones generally aren’t covered by insurance, with costs in the $200 range.

Madison Square Garden has partnered with two companies, GoHealth and Vault Health, to help facilitate the testing process. They also provide you with guidelines for testing timelines to ensure you receive your results before you attend the event.

There are dozens of options out there. Here are a few of the better ones we’ve found.


GoHealth is Northwell Health’s Urgent Care business and has partnered with MSG Sports directly to help facilitate the pre-testing requirements. If you use GoHealth, they recommend making a Virtual Visit appointment four to five days before your event, so that you are able to schedule your in-person test three day before your event. This will allow fans to receive their tests results in time to attend the game. You can access the specific MSG GoHealth sign up link here.

Vault Health

Vault Health has partnered with MSG Sports to provide their simple, saliva-based COVID-19 at home test. Upon request, a test kit is shipped to you directly overnight. The test is administered under video supervision by a medical expert and then needs to be returned that same day via UPS to Vault Health. Test results should then be available within 72 hours. You can access the specific MSG Vault Health sign up link here.


Carecube offers COVID-19 tests for travel, with turnaround times in 24-48 hours. Another plus with this service is that there are no appointments required. They also take insurance, although without insurance the test will run you around $200.


CityMD is likely the most convenient option for most New Yorkers due to the number of locations they have. However the speed in which you receive results can vary by location, with most advertising returns within 5-7 days, which doesn’t cut it. There is no costs to the tests, so if you feel confident that the return will be speedy it could be a convenient option.

Urgent Way

Similar to CityMD but there are far fewer locations, only 4 in the New York area. However, testing is free and the turnaround time is 1-2 days. If you are close to one of their locations, this is a great option.

Pixel by Labcorp

This is a take home test kit that is free with insurance (or $119 without). You order the test online and it’s delivered in approximately 2 days. After receiving the sample, it takes about 1-2 days to receive the results. This option cuts it close from a timing perspective, but has the added benefit of being done at home.

Madison Square Garden COVID-19 Event Guidelines

As mentioned previously, each New York venue will have their own protocols in addition to the ones required by the state. You can find all of Madison Square Garden’s reopening protocols here, but these are the highlights:

  • Temperature check upon arrival at the venue that registers below 100.4
  • Completing a health survey through the MSG Venue App, which is accessible 12 hours prior to the event
  • All main entrances to the venue will be open to promote social distancing upon entry into the building

Barclays Center COVID-19 Event Guidelines

Barclays Center is taking a different approach to start the return of events. You can find a high level look at their current protocols here, but below you can see the major differences in process.

  • There will be no single game ticket sales
  • Only 200 people in the building to start, with the expectation that capacity increases to 10%
  • The Nets will send ticketed fans a PCR test to take and send back to them before every game
  • Fans will also be subject to take an antigen test when you arrive at the arena

Nassau Coliseum COVID-19 Event Guidelines

Nassau Coliseum has not released their specific guidelines for the return of fans at this time. We will update this section as soon as that information becomes available.

KeyBank Center COVID-19 Event Guidelines

KeyBank Center has not released their specific guidelines for the return of fans at this time. We will update this section as soon as that information becomes available.

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