N.J. coronavirus recovery: Guidelines issued for outdoor sports

The state health department has issued guidelines for outdoor sports as New Jersey begins to reopen its economy.

Basketball player (Courtesy of Pixabay)

Basketball player (Courtesy of Pixabay)

UPDATED: 5:25 p.m.

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New Jersey has reported Monday 274 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 bringing the total number of cases to 167,103. The death toll rose by 52 mortalities to 12,676.

The total number of New Jerseyans who died from the novel coronavirus now surpasses the number of state residents who died while fighting in World War II (12,565.)

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According to the state hospital association, there are 1,351 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the state; 402 are in intensive care as of Sunday night.

Game on, but in stages

The state health department has issued guidelines for outdoor sports to resume on June 22.

Gov. Phil Murphy says the sports have been put into risk categories based on information from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Low-risk sports, like golf and tennis, can resume competition immediately on the effective date.

Baseball, softball and soccer are in the medium-risk category; they’ll be able to resume non-contact drills and practices. Competition in those sports can resume July 6 if there is no significant uptick in COVID-19 cases.

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Football, in the high-risk category, will also be limited to non-contact drills. Competition will be allowed to begin July 20.

“All sports will have to abide by a number of health and safety protocols, including screenings for athletes, coaches and staff; limited equipment-sharing; and strong requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing equipment,” Murphy said.

Other protocols include athletes bringing their own equipment and water bottles to practice, dividing larger teams into smaller teams, and staggering practice times.

These guidelines also apply to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the NCAA.

Partial reopening day

The second phase of Gov. Murphy’s reopening of the state’s economy has begun.

In this phase, restaurants are allowed to have outdoor dining, nonessential retail stores can welcome customers back at half of their location’s normal capacity, and the Motor Vehicle Commission will be open for pickup and drop-off services. Also, libraries can open for curbside pickup, and childcare centers are no longer limited to watching the children of first responders and essential workers.

Personal grooming services, such as barbershops, hair salons and nail parlors, will be allowed to reopen on June 22.

On NBC’s Today Show Monday, the governor said, “It’s a big day.”

Murphy was heckled during the interview for not reopening businesses sooner. He has been roundly criticized for participating in a couple Black Lives Matter marches recently, and accused of violating his order against large gatherings.

“This guy deserves to say what he wants to say, but honestly the majority, overwhelmingly the majority of folks get it,” Murphy said in response.

The governor noted that New Jersey had been hit harder than all the states except New York and was able to flatten to the COVID-19 curve.

“We make the decisions,” he said, “they are not arbitrary; they’re based on facts and data.”

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Some clarifications from the governor

Libraries were granted permission to offer curbside pickup after the governor issued Sunday clarifications to rules that would affect how some businesses would operate.

Among the rule clarifications are these: People will be allowed to tour restaurants and indoor recreational and entertainment businesses for event-planning purposes; students will be allowed to retrieve their personal belongings at school with a parent or guardian; and a number of different types of businesses — bicycle shops, boat and car dealerships, farming equipment stores, federal firearms licensees, livestock feed stores, and mobile phone shops — are allowed to operate.

Just in time for Independence Day, fireworks displays will be permitted along with other special events at public and private beaches, boardwalks, lakes and lakeshores.

The clarifications that allowed businesses to operate still come under social distancing restrictions and executive orders issued by Murphy concerning the size of the gathering or number of people permitted in a space.

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