ROXBURY, NJ - It's good Gov. Phil Murphy decided to allow indoor sports to take place again, to a degree, but it would have been nice if local officials were given some advance warning, said Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall.

Speaking at the Roxbury Mayor and Council's meeting on Tuesday night, Hall said township and school officials responsible for organizing the indoor sports were taken by surprise by Murphy's announcement Monday.

"Not to be a complainer but, we just received some changes again to some of the restrictions by the governor," Hall said. "Not that I'm against any of these changes - although I don't understand some of them right now - but I really wish we would receive some sort of advance notice ... going forward, to just give us a chance to react appropriately before they're actually released to the general public."

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'Little Bit of a Heads Up'

In an interview, Hall said parents and players - yearning to get back to playing basketball, hockey and other indoor sports - expect quick compliance by local officials, such as those in the Roxbury Recreation Department. "We're actually the ones who have to institute these changes," he said.

During the council meeting, state Sen. Anthony Bucco, who also serves as Roxbury's township lawyer, agreed with Hall and said he was in the same boat.

"I wish I was given a little bit of a heads up," he said. "You're not alone in this. I literally got notice from the governor's office about an hour before the last executive order was signed. So, I apologize for that, but we are trying to get some additional advance notice."

Murphy's Executive Order No. 187 allows for indoor sports activities defined as “medium risk” and “high risk” by the state Department of Health’s “Guidance for Sports Activities.” That includes hockey, basketball, cheerleading, group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate and wrestling.

Prior to the order, Murphy had allowed a number of athletics to play or conduct their practices outdoors - while officials continue to report an upsurge in new cases.

Limited Capacities

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

Both games and practices will be maxed at 25 percent capacity.

"[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," the governors' office said in a statement.

With the above exception, the order mandates that a practice and games cannot surpass 150 people.

The Department of Health has outlined a number of protocols that should be in place, including screenings for athletes, coaches and staff, limitations on equipment sharing and the need to disinfect and sanitize surfaces and equipment.

Still, it will be up to high school leagues and college conferences whether they compete this fall. 

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