N.J. highschool sports activities to reopen for folks to be spectators at video games, sources say
Governor Phil Murphy will announce that a limited number of New Jersey parents will be able to return to watching their children play indoor high school sports after months of being banned from the stands due to the coronavirus pandemic, NJ Advance Media has learned.
According to two sources familiar with the governor’s plan but not empowered to speak publicly about the announcement, the lifting of the new restriction could take effect in the coming days.
Additional details on how many viewers will be allowed and other restrictions were not immediately available, but the announcement could be made as early as Friday, the sources said.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to comments.
Murphy banned all indoor sports in the state for four weeks late last year. At that time, organized sport was allowed to resume from January 2nd, but teams had to adhere to new rules – including banning spectators from games.
The governor, who has four children, had admitted that as a parent he understood how difficult it is not to see children’s games, especially for families with seniors. However, he insisted that the restriction be put in place to contain the further spread of the virus.
Late last month, Murphy hinted at one of his COVID-19 briefings that he was considering “a certain number” of viewers and that he might give priority to parents of high school graduates.
“If the numbers keep getting better, I think the answer is yes. We just can’t tell when, “said Murphy on Jan. 25th.” Whatever we did, whenever we did, it would prioritize the families of the elderly. “
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The news comes less than a week after Murphy increased strict capacity limits for restaurants, gyms, and other businesses from 25% to 35% as the state outbreak continues to slow and vaccination efforts mount.
Murphy cited declining hospital stays, a gradual decline in new daily case numbers, and the lower transmission rate of the virus as reasons why certain companies may be increasing indoor capacity.
The governor also said Monday that the totals “are pointing in the right direction”, hinting that he could lift more of the restrictions put in place to stop the spread. But Murphy didn’t make known what steps he would take, and he also warned that new variants of the virus that could more easily spread could reverse the trend.
Currently, New Jersey allows all indoor sports for teenagers, high schools, and adults. However, teams can only exceed the state’s current 10-person limit for indoor gatherings during practice and games.
The state ban on interstate sports and competitions remains in effect.
Murphy is currently in quarantine after a member of his family took a positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday. But the governor has tested negative for the virus. His briefing on Friday is expected to take place virtually.
The state reported an additional 3,012 confirmed coronavirus cases and 79 more deaths related to the disease on Thursday. The state’s seven-day average for newly confirmed cases is now 3,368, a decrease of 1% from last week and 40% from the previous month.
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