Murphy to allow indoor youth sports to continue — but without parents

Governor, after saying only players, coaches and officials are allowed, says N.J. is watching hockey closely for noncompliance

Gov. Phil Murphy reduced the capacity of indoor gatherings on Monday to 10 people — but, he noted there are some exceptions, including youth sports.

In the interest of keeping youth sports up and running, Murphy said indoor sports practices or competitions will be somewhat exempt from these new restrictions. But they will continue without parents. Just players, coaches and game officials will be allowed.

“(Sports practices and competitions) will be allowed to exceed the 10-person limit,” Murphy said. “However, only for individuals necessary for the practice or competition, such as players, coaches and referees.”

This means that, in situations where the individual players, coaches and referees exceed 10 people — and that will be almost every case — spectators will not be allowed.

Murphy said he realizes that this announcement probably causes a lot of frustration for parents of youth athletes, but he said it is just a reality of the times.

“As a parent, I understand the importance of watching our kids play and the thrill of cheering them on,” he said. “But, right now, with the numbers we are seeing, we have to take these steps to preserve and protect, as best we can, public health and to try and slow the spread of this virus.”

When it comes to indoor sporting events specifically, Murphy also has an axe to grind with one sport in particular.

“I want to say very specifically — hockey is in our cross hairs,” he said. “I’m not sure why, but we are hearing, more than anecdotal, more than here-or-there, a lot of noncompliance, including by parents. … Watch yourselves. We have that high on the list right now and, unless we see better compliance and lower levels of infection, we will take action.”

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