CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb says COVID safety precautions are a "top priority" as the city prepares to host the NBA All-Star Game in February.
As a result, Mayor Bibb outlined the following COVID safety protocols that will be in place throughout the All-Star weekend from Feb. 18-20:
- All guests ages 5 and older will be required to show proof of vaccination before participating in any ticketed event.
- Those who are not fully vaccinated, must show proof of having a negative COVID test. These options include a PCR test 48 hours before the event or an antigen test the day of the event.
- Mayor Bibb's mask advisory will remain in place throughout the entire NBA All-Star Game weekend. As previously noted, however, this is not a mask mandate. “An advisory is a recommendation strongly encouraging residents to wear a mask at all indoor facilities,” Mayor Bibb's office told 3News earlier this month.
So why not a mask mandate for the All-Star Game?
“I believe that it’s important to give people the choice," Mayor Bibb said. "As you’ve seen across the country, mandates have a lot of backlash. It’s critical that we encourage personal responsibility. Having a mask advisory indoors, we thought, was the most prudent thing to do -- particularly given counsel from our law department and experts inside our public health department because enforcing that can be a challenge."
We streamed Mayor Bibb's press conference, which you can watch in full below:
Mayor Bibb said these safety measures were guided by the most recent recommendations from the CDC and Cleveland Department of Public Health.
"We want to ensure that everyone involved has the best experience possible in addition to avoiding any unnecessary strain on our local health systems," Mayor Bibb said during a Monday morning press conference at Tower City Center.
In addition to making an estimated $100 million economic impact on the city from the All-Star Game, Mayor Bibb also announced the NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers have offered a financial contribution of $100,000 and various other tools to support pandemic recovery efforts.
“Through our work with the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers, they have agreed to donate over 10,000 rapid antigen tests and over 25,000 N95 masks to the citywide COVID task force for distribution to schools and community-based organizations," Mayor Bibb explained.
An NBA rep later told 3News that while Mayor Bibb mentioned 25,000 masks during his speech, the number is now actually closer to 100,000 N95 masks.
Mayor Bibb added that the NBA is also joining the city's public education campaign to feature players, coaches and legends while offering incentives like tickets, merchandise, autographs and more to increase vaccination rates.
With only 46 percent of Cleveland's population fully vaccinated, Mayor Bibb said his goal is to increase that number to 60 percent by the end of 2022.
“We can and must do better to stop the spread of COVID-19 all across our city.”
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