Gov. Murphy signs executive order allowing indoor sports to resume, but fans likely won’t be able to attend

by Mike Pavlichko

It would appear high school basketball and other indoor scholastic sports may be allowed to proceed in New Jersey this winter.

Governor Murphy Thursday signed Executive Order No. 187 allowing indoor contact practices and competitions to resume for sports defined as “medium risk” and “high risk.”

In addition to some of the most popular sports, such as basketball, wrestling and cheerleading, the order also includes hockey, group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate, and taekwondo.

“After consulting stakeholders and medical experts, we have concluded that, with proper public health and safety protocols in place, indoor sports may now resume in a way that protects players, coaches, and staff,” Murphy said.

The order, however, is very restrictive and ostensibly would keep fans outside the gym.

The order says all indoor practices and competitions are limited to 25% of the capacity of the room. But while even the smallest high school gyms can fit a few hundred fans for sports like basketball and wrestling, the order also limits those in attendance to “not more than 25 or less than 10” people. It further adds that if the necessary people – including players, coaches and referees – exceeds 25, the event can go on so long as no spectators are present, and the capacity does not exceed 25% of the capacity of the room, or 150 people, whichever is smaller.

All events at the high school level would also have to abide by NJSIAA regulations.

It was not immediately clear how the order would affect media, who have been allowed at outdoor events this fall, such as football and soccer.

It’s also unclear how the order would affect large events like conference basketball tournaments or the state wrestling tournament in Atlantic City, though it’s possible the restrictions could be loosened at some point in the future should the state fare well in keeping COVID-19 at bay.

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