Numbers are good: Murphy lifts pause on indoor winter sports
Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday lifted the pause on indoor sports starting Saturday.
Murphy had signed an executive order last month putting indoors competitions and practices on hold as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations started rising rapidly.
Murphy said Wednesday that given the safety protocols in place, including limiting the number of people inside to 10 unless more are needed for a competition or practice, and the relative stability of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, “we feel confident we can move forward by continuing to deal with any outbreaks or other issues on an individual case basis as opposed to a blanket prohibition.”
The governor noted “that sports are important for both the physical and mental wellness of our youth and our other residents.”
Murphy also noted that a longer pause would likely mean many sports seasons would have to be scrapped entirely, “and we do not wish to see that happen.”
Frank McGady, the president of the New Jersey Youth Hockey League, called the announcement thrilling.
“The coaches, the teams, the players I’m sure are very, very excited to get back in the rinks on Saturday,” he said. “It’s tremendous. I’m just glad the kids will get back on the ice and it will help getting them with their friends again. I think it’s really important for them."
McGady said some games have been played over the past month on outdoor rinks but there are few of them in the state.
The youth hockey league is the largest league in New Jersey with about 7,000 players
Murphy said for the time being, all interstate youth sports competitions will continue to be prohibited because “we know interstate travel and associated activities among teams are particularly risky, as these settings create opportunities for the virus to spread.”
After the governor’s announcement the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association issued the following statement:
“NJSIAA welcomes the governor’s announcement and continued support, and looks forward to the beginning of the indoor, winter, scholastic sports season – specifically, NJSIAA season 2.
“Occupancy restrictions will remain in effect as established by the governor’s Executive Orders. And, of course, public health data still may impact our upcoming seasons, so it’s essential that we all continue supporting the 3 Ws -- wear your masks, watch your distance, and wash your hands.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com