NEW JERSEY -- Gov. Phil Murphy today announced that he has eased some restrictions on the number of spectators that can attend high school and other youth sporting events both indoors and outdoors.

"I want to start with an announcement that I know many athletes and many moms and dads have been waiting for. I'm signing an Executive Order today, effective immediately by the way, to allow a limited number of spectators for all indoor and outdoor high school and other youth sporting events. Basically, all non-collegiate and non-professional sports," Murphy said.

According to the order, youth sporting events may now choose to allow up to two parents or guardians per athlete under the age of 21 to attend practices and competitions, as long as the attendance of those parents and/or guardians does not cause our indoor events to exceed the 35% of the room’s capacity or 150 people in total (whichever is less). Besides the two parents or guardians per athlete, no other spectators may attend.

Sign Up for Clark Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

All spectators must follow the guidance from the Department of Health regarding sports activities, which includes requirements to wear a mask, observe social distancing, and most importantly, stay home when you're sick or you think you've been exposed.

"Should a positive case arise from an event, all spectators will need to cooperate with contact tracing efforts," Murphy said.

The governor said that the individual school districts retain the ability to be stricter and not allow any spectators at all, should they choose. They can also choose when to implement this new spectator policy if they don't feel that they're ready to do so immediately for this weekend's games.

"I know many parents, especially those of our senior athletes, have been anxious to get back into the stands to cheer on their student athletes in what may, for many, be their final season of competition," Murphy said, adding that COVID metrics continue to trend more positively in the state.

"This is something I have been wanting to do for our student athletes and their biggest fans. I urge everyone to take the proper precautions," Murphy added. "I do not want to have to reverse course, no one wants to reverse course on this, but should we see trouble spots, we will have no choice, and we'll respond as needed."

"But that said, we welcome parents, our kids' biggest fans, back into the arena, and we hope your athlete has a successful season," the governor said.