The Golden State Warriors became the first N.B.A. team to bar fans from home games in response to the coronavirus pandemic, announcing on Wednesday that the restriction would begin Thursday night when the Nets visit Chase Center in San Francisco.
The Warriors, in a statement, said all other events at Chase Center through March 21 would be postponed or canceled. Fans will receive refunds for Thursday’s game.
The team made the announcement shortly after the city of San Francisco moved to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people for at least two weeks. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also addressed the issue before lawmakers on Wednesday, citing the specific risk of crowds at N.B.A. games.
“We would recommend that there not be large crowds,” Dr. Fauci said. “If that means not having any people in the audience when the N.B.A. plays, so be it. But as a public health official, anything that has large crowds is something that would give a risk to spread.”
There had been mounting public pressure on the Warriors to make such a move. On Saturday, San Francisco officials prohibited “non-essential group events” at city-owned facilities for two weeks because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Despite those warnings, the Warriors welcomed fans to their home game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. But the game was sparsely attended, and the Warriors lost, 131-107.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement on Wednesday that she had consulted with Warriors officials to “discuss the steps we’re taking to cancel large events and they are in support of our efforts.”
After the Warriors play the Nets on Thursday, their next five games are on the road. Their next home game is on March 25 against the Atlanta Hawks.
This is a developing story.