Murphy: Indoor Winter Sports Can Resume Saturday Amid Pandemic

NEW JERSEY — Indoor winter sports will be permitted to resume starting Saturday in New Jersey, with restrictions remaining in place on the number of people permitted in a venue and a ban on out-of-state travel, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

Murphy paused indoor sports competition and practices until January in a Dec. 4 executive order because of rising cases of the coronavirus.

The order affects youth sports as well as high school sports, and was welcomed by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, which oversees high school sports in the state.

“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,” the association said.

“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,” the association said.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to shortened seasons for fall and winter sports. Ice hockey, which had been blamed by Murphy for some of the spread of the virus in November, has been limited to outdoor practices. Indoor practice for the sport can begin Sunday, according to the NJSIAA.

Basketball, fencing and bowling are set to start practice Jan. 11, swimming and winter track begin Feb. 1, and wrestling, girls volleyball and gymnastics (the latter two of which were moved from the fall) are to start practices on March 1.

Hockey games can start Jan. 15 and the season is being extended to March 6, because of the constraints on ice time. Basketball, fencing and bowling competitions begin Jan. 26 and the seasons end March 6. Swimming and winter track competitions begin Feb. 16 and end March 27, and wrestling, girls volleyball and gymnastics competitions begin March 16 and end April 24.

There will be no state tournaments for basketball, fencing, bowling, swimming or winter track. The NJSIAA is still weighing state tournament possibilities for wrestling, gymnastics and girls volleyball.

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