TRENTON, NJ – Low-risk competitive youth sports such as golf and tennis can resume as early as Monday as Gov. Phil Murphy continues to steer the state down the road to re-opening.
Other youth sports that are considered medium or high risks of transmission of COVID-19 will be allowed to start up in the coming weeks, Murphy announced Monday at his daily news conference.
The State Department of Health has placed sports in three categories based on their risk factors.
Medium-risk team sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball and softball can begin practicing non-contact drills Monday and resume playing games by July 6.
Football is considered a high-risk sport because its participants are in close contact. That means non-contact football drills can start June 22 and games could potentially resume by July 20.
Now that youth sports’ return is near, the state is poised to continue to lift social-distancing measures. When asked Monday if New Jersey is getting near Stage 3 of his plan to reopen the state, Murphy said it would be a matter of weeks, not months.
State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli, however, said there will be some health and safety guidelines that will apply to all youth sports, including screenings for athletes, coaches and staff.
She also urged teams to limit equipment sharing, and disinfecting and sanitizing equipment after each use, practice or game.
Staff, parents and visitors will be required to wear face coverings at practices and games. Athletes will be encouraged to wear face coverings during down time, but not during periods of physical activity.
Murphy also said that competitions and tournaments must abide by the state's limit on outdoor gatherings. That number is currently 100 people but is expected rise to 250 in a week, and then 500 people by July 3, he said.
Starting July 23, Murphy expects high-risk youth sports such as football, lacrosse and hockey to begin full practices and compete providing the participants are outdoors.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body of New Jersey high school sports, announced today that it has set July 13 as a possible start date for summer workouts.
Also, the NJSIAA also said that coaches may continue virtual contact with players until the summer recess period officially begins.
Murphy said the return of youth sports is possible because key data point to the fact that the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus is slowing. For instance, Murphy announced that the number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state (74) continues to be outpaced by the number of discharges (107).