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February 14, 2021

Limited number of spectators now permitted to attend N.J. youth, high school sporting events

No more than two parents or guardians per athlete under the age of 21 may now attend competitions across the state

High School Sports Coronavirus
N.J. youth high school sports spectators Amy Newman/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

Attendance at youth and high school sporting events in New Jersey has been all but limited to athletes, coaches and referees due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth and high school sports competitions across New Jersey can begin welcoming back a limited number of spectators amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

No more than two parents or guardians per athlete under the age of 21 can now attend indoor and outdoor sporting events across the state. 

The measure, which took effect on Friday, bans all other spectators. Parents and guardians in attendance must wear face masks and practice social distancing. 

All indoor youth and high school sports competitions are prohibited from exceeding New Jersey's indoor occupancy limit of 35% capacity or 150 people — whichever number is less.

School districts are permitted to impose stricter guidelines and ban spectators from sporting events if they so choose. They also may determine when it is best to implement the state's newest guidelines on attendees at competitions.

Gov. Phil Murphy cited improved public health metrics for his decision to relax restrictions on spectators at youth and high school sporting events.

The number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations in New Jersey continues to drop. After reaching a record-high of 3,726 hospitalizations in mid-January, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has dropped by over 35% to 2,449, according to the state's database.

The statewide rate of COVID-19 transmission currently stands at 0.81, which indicates that the spread of the coronavirus is slowing.

“As a father of four, I know how difficult it has been for many parents to not be able to see their kids participate in sports,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “With our metrics trending in the right direction, we feel comfortable taking this step and allowing parents back into youth sporting events.”

Spectators have been all but banned from youth and high school sporting events in New Jersey due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only essential personnel, such as athletes, coaches, and referees, have been permitted to attend competitions and practices.

"We hope this order marks another positive step in the return to play," the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said in a statement. "At the same time, we urge parents to give our member schools time to review the governor's order and determine both overall feasibility and a specific process for increasing occupancy as outlined."

Vineland selected for initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations in houses of worship

Starting on Monday, New Jersey will begin administering COVID-19 vaccine doses in houses of worship and community sites across five socioeconomically-challenged municipalities.

Among the five locations that have been selected for the initial rollout is Vineland, Cumberland County. The other four community sites will be set up in municipalities across the central and northern parts of the state.

The five municipalities were selected for the initial rollout because they have been underserved and disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Murphy said. 

Vineland has had 4,691 coronavirus cases and 140 fatalities due to COVID-19 since the public health crisis began, which is the most of any municipality in Cumberland County. Those numbers account for more than 40% of the county's total number of infections and almost 45% of the county's total number of COVID-19-related deaths.

The community-based initiative will vaccinate 15,000 New Jersey residents through March. These sites will be able to inoculate approximately 1,500 individuals per week.

Only members of the immediate community will be permitted to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses at these sites. Vaccination appointments are required and will be handled directly by each site.

All COVID-19 vaccine doses will be provided by the state. Each community site will partner with a health provider to administer the vaccine doses.

Staffing at these sites will be provided by the Department of Defense and FEMA. The initial vaccinations at each site will take place over a two-week span, followed by a return period for booster shots.

“Among our highest priorities is ensuring equitable access to appointments and vaccinations,” Murphy said. “We are grateful for this unique partnership between our state agencies, federal government, and faith and local leaders as we begin this new phase in our vaccination effort to provide New Jerseyans with access to vaccines.”

Houses of worship and community sites in five additional locations across New Jersey will come online at a later date.

Almost 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered thus far in New Jersey.

Health care personnel, long-term care residents and staffers, first responders, seniors and people with high-risk medical conditions currently are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines in New Jersey.


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