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New Jersey to halt indoor sports, cap outside gatherings

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said on Monday the state plans to halt indoor youth and adult sports and cap outdoor gatherings to 25 people by the end of the week.

Murphy said during a press conference that the state was canceling indoor youth and adult sports starting on Saturday at 6 a.m. through Jan. 2. Collegiate-level and professional sports teams are the only exceptions to the new rule, he said, adding that he hopes and intends for winter sports to start in January.

“Stability in our health care system starts with carefully chosen steps to hamper the spread of the virus and because of the data, we know how and where we can best beat this challenge,” Murphy said. 

“We’re seeing outbreaks related to indoor sports and this is a prudent short-term step to slow the spread,” he added. 

The governor also announced that the state will limit its outdoor gatherings to 25 people starting 6 a.m. next Monday, after previously reducing the cap to 150 people two weeks prior from 500 people. 

Murphy listed the exceptions as religious or political activities, funerals, memorial services and wedding ceremonies. He also clarified that the rule change did not affect outdoor dining with people dining in separate groups.

Murphy dismissed the notion of New Jersey instituting lockdowns or shutdowns as “rumors” saying, “We’re not in the same situation we found ourselves in during the spring.”

Following Thanksgiving, Murphy encouraged state residents to organize future holiday plans, including Christmas, by making gatherings “as small as possible.”

Edward Lifshitz, the medical director of the New Jersey Department of Health, said during the briefing that it is “strongly recommended that people consider alternatives to visiting Santa at indoor locations, such as virtual visits or outdoor social distanced visits and photos.”

Malls will continue to have Santa appearances and appointments with masks and social distancing but “children should not be permitted to sit on Santa’s lap.”

At the end of October, New Jersey had a seven-day average of 1,507 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to The New York Times. The current seven-day average has reached 4,018 new cases. 



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