New Jersey

Contact Sports Like Football Can Resume Outdoors in NJ Amid Coronavirus

Nearly 177,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in New Jersey but for months cases have been down allowing for loosening of restrictions

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What to Know

  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has cleared the way for contact sports to restart amid coronavirus.
  • Starting Monday sports like football and rugby -- considered high risk amid COVID-19 -- could begin contact drills, but only outside.
  • New Jersey families will also be able to opt into remote-only learning as schools reopen this fall. More details are expected later in the week.

Contact sports like football and rugby that are considered high risk amid the coronavirus pandemic can begin again in New Jersey.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday afternoon at New Jersey’s coronavirus news conference that he is signing an executive order that clears the way for high-contact sports to practice and play games.

The contact practices can only be held outdoors with other safety measures in place, the first-term Democrat said. Teams must still adhere to scholastic and NCAA guidelines.

Per state guidelines staff, parents, guardians and visitors must cover their faces at practices and games. Athletes won't need to be masked while playing but are encouraged to be masked during downtime.

"All sports will have to abide by a number of health and safety protocols in the guidance, including screenings for athletes, coaches and staff, limited equipment sharing, and strong requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing equipment," the state says in its existing guidelines.

Previously, teams only were able to hold workouts. There is currently an outdoor gathering limit of 500 people in New Jersey.

Shortly after Murphy's announcement, the New York Giants and New York Jets, which both play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, said they would not allow fans to attend games.

New Jersey was hard hit by COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic with nearly 177,000 cases to date, but for the past couple months cases and hospitalizations have slowed, leading Murphy to reopen parts of the economy.

Murphy, however, has yet to bring the Garden State into the third phase of reopening as rate of transmission has ticked up the past few weeks. Rt, however on Monday, was down below 1.0 (0.90) again, Murphy noted.

As of Monday, at least 13,741 people had died from COVID-19-related complications in New Jersey. Nine new deaths were announced Monday. Another nearly 2,000 deaths are suspected to be due to the coronavirus.

Murphy continues to require people to cover their faces when in public and asked anyone who wants to get tested to do so. (Here is a list of coronavirus test locations.)

"Let’s continue to pull together as one state, and one New Jersey family, to protect our communities and defeat COVID-19 together," Murphy said. "Only through our continued hard work and progress can we move forward in our economic restart and recovery."

Remote Learning Option

New Jersey students will be allowed to learn entirely online as the 2020-2021 school year gets underway.

Murphy promised that detailed guidance would be coming later in the week, but that parents and guardians will be able to opt for all remote learning in the upcoming school year.

"We want to do it responsibly," Murphy said.

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