New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took to the airwaves on Monday to announce that the state will allow limited crowds at venues with over 5,000 person capacity. Effective March 1st at 6 a.m., indoor arenas can let in a 10% capacity audience and 15% for outdoor.
Appearing on WFAN 101.9 FM’s Moose & Maggie sports program, Governor Murphy noted that for these events “Everybody has to do the stuff we’re all used to these days: face coverings, social distancing, etc. If you buy tickets together you can sit together, but otherwise, you have to social distance, and God willing, this is the first step of what I hope is many more to come.”
In addition to the opening of larger venues, the governor also decreed that the parents of collegiate athletes will now be allowed to attend their children’s games. Those events, however, must still abide by the 10 and 15 percent capacity guidelines.
Monday’s announcement did not include any mandate for proof of vaccination or negative COVID testing requirement. Other states (like neighboring New York) require any attendees of large-scale public events to either provide proof of vaccination or a negative test within that last 72 hours.
“We’re not there yet with tests. That’s why social distancing, one-way avenues, how concessions are handled…all that will matter,” Governor Murphy said.
One of the first entertainment companies to take advantage of this new policy will be the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, who play at Prudential Center in Newark just outside of New York City. Given the arena’s 19,500 person capacity, the Devils will be able to host between 1,700 and 1,800 fans when they play the New York Islanders on March 2nd.
During his announcement, the Governor also looked ahead to the next football season for the New York Jets and New York Giants–as well as Rutgers University—who all play in New Jersey. Governor Murphy also made sure to note that, had the Giants made the playoffs, they would have found a way to allow fans into the game.
“Our teams speak to them all the time, and the last conversation I had was with John Mara the afternoon before the [Philadelphia] Eagles rolled over in the last game,” Gov. Murphy smiled, “but I told John that if the Eagles lost, we’d work with them to find some way to get fans into MetLife. If things go the way I suggested, I’ll be shocked if we’re not at a higher level of capacity for football as we get into the fall. God knows we need it, all of us.”
Governor Murphy also offered some optimistic projections for the summer as the state attempts to stick to an aggressive vaccination schedule. New Jersey has already administered nearly 1.7 million vaccinations and had hoped to reach 70 percent of adults within six months of the first vaccinations, which took place in December.
“When we started in early December, our objective was 70 percent of adults in six months, which is about 4.7 million New Jerseyans,” Governor Murphy said. “I’m not sure we’ll be there by Memorial Day, but a couple months from now, this will be a whole diff ballgame in terms of vaccine access. By then we should be at the point that if you want a vaccine, you’ll be able to get it, assuming federal supply.”
Watch a clip of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s announcement allowing limited capacity crowds at the state’s larger arenas on Moose & Maggie and scroll down to listen to his full appearance.
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