Will Thunder open to an empty house?
Will Thunder fans be allowed in the downtown arena when the NBA returns Dec. 22?
With the pandemic unrelenting, the city of Oklahoma City is wrestling with how to reopen public buildings.
That includes the Thunder's home court and City Hall, where the city council later this month will meet in person for the first time since March 17.
Tom Anderson, special projects manager in the office of Craig Freeman, Oklahoma City's city manager, said Friday multiple plans for reopening Chesapeake Energy Arena for basketball have been developed, taking into consideration a range of contingencies.
Those include playing with limited seating capacity, as well as playing without fans.
A final decision rests first on an assessment of the health risks to fans, players and staff, he said.
"I can't tell you one way or another," Anderson said. "We're not there yet."
Freeman said Thursday that meetings among city officials and arena managers would continue next week.
- Related to this story
- Article: Consistency a challenge for Oklahoma schools in COVID-19 era
- Article: Here’s what we know about COVID-19 in Oklahoma City metro area schools
- Article: Oklahoma sees record number of virus hospitalizations
- Article: Delay possible for in-person classes in OKC schools
- Article: Are Oklahoma hospitals nearing ICU capacity due to COVID-19?
- Article: OKC metro schools cancel Friday classes, adjust next week
- Article: Billboards call for Oklahoma school mask mandate
- Article: Oklahoma reports 2,736 new COVID-19 cases, 15 deaths Tuesday
- Article: OKC schools don't expect delay for 1st-12th grade return
- Article: Pressure on hospitals intensifies as OKC reaches Tier 3 of COVID-19 surge plan
- Article: Tinker Air Force Base declares public health emergency following increase in COVID-19 cases
- Article: How does Oklahoma's COVID-19 hospital surge plan work?
- Article: Local hospitals working together to prevent COVID crush
- Article: Oklahoma officials place responsibility on state residents after huge surge in COVID cases
- Article: Mayor Holt would welcome statewide mask mandate by Gov. Kevin Stitt
- Article: Oklahoma health officials balk at mandating masks
- Article: Teachers protest at contentious OKC school board meeting
- Article: Some OKC parents excited about kids' return to classrooms; some teachers, not so much
- Article: Vaccine will be safe and end pandemic, head of Oklahoma research institute says
- Article: Oklahoma state school board doesn't budge on mask policy
- Article: Contact tracing underway after two Oklahoma House members test positive for COVID-19
- Article: Citing COVID-19 concerns, Oklahoma Senate cancels ceremonial swearing in 'out of an abundance of caution'
- Article: COVID-19 surge sends OKC schoolkids back home
- Article: Oklahoma City Public Schools suspends all winter sports due to COVID numbers in Oklahoma County
- Article: Norman mayor calls on Stitt to implement mask mandate
- Video: Local hospitals working together to prevent COVID crush
"The city, the Thunder and [building manager] ASM Global are all committed to being able to host events, especially NBA games, as safely as possible," he said.
The city owns Chesapeake Energy Arena and has authority to decide when to unlock the doors, and whether and how much to limit seating capacity.
Dr. Dale Bratzler of OU Medicine said Friday he had not seen the Thunder's plans, but that substantially limiting seating capacity and creating socially distanced "pods" for immediate family members likely would be among them.
Those steps align with team and NBA announcements so far.
Bratzler is professor and chair of the health administration and policy department in the Hudson College of Public Health at The University of Oklahoma.
"Masks will have to be mandatory ... because a crowd of people, even physically distanced, that are yelling and cheering without a mask can spread aerosols and droplets a long ways," he said.
"You have to assume that someone in the crowd has the infection at current rates of transmission."
The New York Post reported this week that the NBA had distributed a four-page memo to team presidents, general managers and arena directors on safety guidelines for admitting fans.
The Clippers and Lakers announced they would open the season with no fans in attendance for home games at Staples Center in Los Angeles, in accordance with state and local health guidelines.
City Hall guidelines
Plexiglass shields have been installed between council members' seats on the "horseshoe" in the third-floor city council chamber at City Hall.
The council will resume in-person meetings Nov. 24.
Meetings including this year's rancorous deliberations over the police department budget have been held virtually since March 31. Most council members have been dialing in from home.
Masks will be required throughout the building. The south basement door will be the only entrance.
Visitors will sign a contact tracing log and undergo a temperature check before being allowed upstairs.
Every other pew in the council chamber will be taped off. Open pews will be limited to three individuals, though families will be allowed to sit together.
Air purifying machines and hand-sanitizer dispensers will be installed.
Elected bodies and advisory boards and commissions are returning to in-person meetings because a state law authorizing virtual meetings during the pandemic expired Sunday.