Murphy to allow winter (indoor) high school sports. Having fans in stands isn’t as certain

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday afternoon allowing for the resumption of contact practices and competitions in indoor settings for organized sports defined as “medium risk” and “high risk” by the New Jersey Department of Health.

In simpler terms: High school basketball, cheerleading, fencing, hockey, swimming and wrestling are on. As are group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate and taekwondo.

See the “Guidance for Sports Activities” for more details.

What is unclear is whether any fans will be present.

All indoor practices and competitions are limited to 25% of the capacity of the room, but not more than 25 or less than 10 persons, the order said. However, if the number of individuals who are necessary for practice or competition, such as players, coaches and referees, exceeds 25, the practice or competition may proceed if no unnecessary individuals — such as spectators — are present.

Even if this exception applies, the number of individuals at the practice or competition cannot exceed 25% of the capacity of the room, and such limit cannot exceed 150 persons.

Facilities and participants must abide by a number of health and safety protocols outlined in the Department of Health’s “Guidance for Sports Activities,” such as screenings for athletes, coaches and staff; limitations on equipment sharing; and requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces and equipment.

Additionally, sports under the oversight of either the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association or the NCAA must continue to abide by those associations’ rules. All sporting activities must comply with all applicable laws, regulations and executive orders.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for our student-athletes, support staff and school communities,” Murphy said. “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.”