President Trump spoke by telephone Saturday with commissioners of America's professional sports leagues, most of which have suspended operations for three weeks, expressing his desire for them to "get back" and play a vital role in the country's eventual reopening for business.
"I want fans back in the arenas," Trump said later in the day at his daily White House press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump did not commit to a timeline for sports leagues to resume, saying, "I can't tell you a date, but I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."
Earlier, an ESPN report citing unnamed sources said Trump had told the commissioners that be believed the NFL season would start on time and that stadiums could be open to fans in August or September. Asked multiple times about that time frame, Trump expressed only hopefulness.
"We're not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet," Trump said. "We need it for this period of time, but eventually, people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas, next to each other, like we have for all of my life and all of your life."
California Gov. Gavin Newsom responded to the report about the NFL starting in the fall by saying, “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”
Newsom referenced COVID-19 coming back in Asia, where the worst had been thought to be over. "We have to be careful not to overpromise," he said.
"It's interesting. I have a lot of friends that work in Major League Baseball and in the NFL. They've been asking me — in fact, a well-known athlete just asked me, a football player, if he expects [sic] to come back. I said I would move very cautiously in that expectation.
"So look, I'm not here to second-guess anybody, but I am here to say this: Our decision on that basis, at least here in the state of California, will be determined by the facts, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by the capacity to meet this moment, bend the curve and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether or not that's appropriate. ... That's not something I anticipate happening in the next few months."
Trump said that he wants to reinstate tax deductions so that corporations can buy more tickets to sports and other entertainment options in an effort to spur the economy forward.
"This country was not designed to be closed," Trump said.