What to Know
- Outdoor gatherings in New Jersey can be no more than 25 people.
- The state is also suspending indoor youth sports through December.
- New Jersey's daily case load roughly quadrupled over the month of November, and hospitalizations tripled.
New Jersey is once again sharply reducing the number of people allowed to gather outdoors, and is banning indoor youth and school sports through the rest of the year, as the state combats a steadily rising rate of COVID-19 infections.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the new prohibitions Monday, though both rules don't immediately go into effect.
The youth sports ban takes effect Saturday, Dec. 5. The prohibition on outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people goes into effect Monday, Dec. 7, at 6 a.m., Murphy said.
The outdoor gathering limit was 500, then reduced two weeks ago to 150, and now it has been cut again.
The indoor sports ban is for all competitions involving children between kindergarten and 12th grade. Outdoor sports will be allowed to continue.
The ban does not affect collegiate or professional sports.
Dr. Edward Lifshitz, medical director for the state's Communicable Disease Service, said indoor youth sports have been linked to many new cases of COVID-19. He cited youth hockey as being traced to more than 100 cases.
“We do not take this step lightly,” Murphy said. “As folks probably know I'm a huge sports fan and all of our kids play sports. I hope and intend to see the winter sports season in January."
The crackdown comes amid a surge in infections in the state. Whereas New Jersey was reporting about 1,000 new cases a day at the end of October, it's now routinely posting more than 4,000 new cases a day.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID tripled over the same timeframe, and the daily death toll rose back to six-month highs.
Murphy has blamed a variety of factors, including COVID fatigue and excessive gatherings behind closed doors. But he has also hesitated to go back to the full restrictions the state saw in the spring, during the virus's first wave.
The weekly average of new daily cases topped 4,000 on Monday, up from 3,500 earlier this month and above the nearly 1,000 seen in October. New Jersey's hospitalizations reached nearly 3,000, Murphy said Monday, a level not seen since May.
There were also an additional 15 deaths reported overnight, the governor said, putting the total at 15,164 since the outbreak began in March.