Spectators, with priority for senior parents, may be permitted to attend indoor high school sporting events if the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey continue to improve, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
Murphy, speaking during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton, said he’s considering “some amount” of spectators but did not have a specific date in mind.
“If the numbers continue to get better, the answer to that, I think, is yes. We just can’t say when,” Murphy said when asked about allowing spectators at high school games.
”Whatever we did, whenever we did it, it would prioritize seniors’ families,” he added.
Games for high school basketball open up Tuesday and competition for ice hockey began Jan. 15. The start dates for other indoor sports, like wrestling and swimming, were pushed back under the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association’s restructured, four-season schedule.
“If you’re watching and you’ve got a daughter or son who plays an indoor high school sport, the one thing you could do right now is to make sure everybody in your life — your family, your friends, your neighbors — is wearing one of these to help us continue to drive the numbers down,” Murphy said holding up a mask.
Currently, only players, coaches, officials and essential personnel are allowed to attend games. The NJSIAA, working under Murphy’s Executive Order 196, said “practically speaking, (capacity limits) mean spectators are prohibited,” in its guidelines for winter sports, which were released in November.
According to the guidelines, the number of individuals who are necessary for the practice or game can exceed the 10-person maximum, but it may not exceed 25% of the room’s capacity or 150 people, whichever is less.
But that may change.
Murphy, who has four children playing winter, indoor sports, said with regards to spectators, he’s getting “very compelling, but respectful input coming to us, including to me personally, making the case to allow us to do that”.
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Patrick Lanni can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @PatLanniHS.