San Francisco bans gatherings of more than 1,000 people, including Warriors games, due to coronavirus
San Francisco initiated a ban Wednesday on gatherings of more than 1,000 people, which includes Golden State Warriors NBA basketball games, Mayor London N. Breed announced in a statement. The city is making the call as novel coronavirus spreads throughout the country.
The mayor said she had spoken with the Warriors on Wednesday and the team is "in support of our efforts." The Warriors will host Thursday's game against the Brooklyn Nets at Chase Center without fans and their G-League team will relocate to Santa Cruz for a game on Saturday against the Austin Spurs.
The Warriors have a five-game trip afterward before a scheduled home game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 25. Matt Haney, San Francisco's District 6 supervisor that oversees the Warriors' Chase Center, told USA TODAY Sports that he "would be surprised if this is only in effect for two weeks."
"This is likely going to spread in the coming weeks. Banning large gatherings is a way we can slow its spread," Haney said. "I don’t know if this is going to be over in two weeks. I think the concern will still be there. If the concern for people’s health is there today, it’s hard for me to see a scenario where it’s not still there two weeks from now."
The Warriors said in a statement that the fans with tickets to Thursday's game vs. Nets and Saturday's Santa Cruz game will receive refunds. People who bought tickets for concerts will either receive a refund or exchange for a rescheduled show, including Tame Impala on Friday (postponed), Post Malone on March 19 (to be decided whether it is postponed or canceled) and Bell Div Devoe & Friends on March 21 (postponed).
“There are people who have much bigger issues at hand," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters. "I’m concerned about all of our ushers and vendors and the entire supply chain that goes into putting on a Warriors game or concert. There’s a lot people whose livelihoods are dependent on that. I’m thinking about all of those people right now and people everywhere who are affected health-wise. It’s a much bigger issue than just our concerns about playing basketball or going on that road or anything like that obviously.”
The Santa Cruz Warriors will also play the following games without fans at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz: Oklahoma City (Thursday), Austin (Saturday), Rio Grande (March 18) and Memphis (March 20).
The NHL's San Jose Sharks, in Santa Clara County, said their next three home games at SAP Center (March 19 vs. Montreal, March 21 vs. Boston and March 29 vs. Arizona) would be closed to the general public.
Haney said that the Warriors "have been supportive of this decision." For the past 12 days, Warriors president Rick Welts has had daily conversations with NBA and city officials on various contingency plans. On March 6, the San Francisco mayor's office canceled any events at City Hall and other government buildings that hosted more than 1,000 people.
"For people who may be more vulnerable and maybe a greater risk of becoming sick. It’s really potentially dangerous for them to be in larger gatherings considering how the virus spreads," Haney said. "I think for the city to ban events at City Hall and not much larger events at Chase Center would’ve been hypocritical and wouldn’t have reflected our own best thinking right now on how to protect people’s health."
The San Francisco Giants were scheduled to play an exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics on March 24, which now won't be played at Oracle Park, according to the club.
The NBA has been considering the possibility of having games at neutral sites or without fans as cities have been implementing restrictions on large gatherings.
"We are closely monitoring developments to determine the appropriate course for future Warriors home games and will continue to work with local governments, the CDC and public health experts to protect the health of our fans, players, coaches and staff in NBA markets across the country," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports.
Sports organizations from Italy to Japan to the United States are taking drastic measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus among players and fans. Officials from four major professional sports leagues -- MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS -- have temporarily closed clubhouses and locker rooms to the media and non-essential personnel.