Parents and guardians are being allowed back in the stands at youth and school sporting events in New Jersey as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state have been declining.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement Friday, saying he would be signing an executive order that immediately allows a "limited number of parents and guardians to attend indoor and outdoor high school and other youth sporting events."
All public health guidance must be adhered to and only two parents or guardians per athlete under 21 will be allowed to attend as long as indoor capacity remains at 35%, up to 150 people totals.
It is up to leagues and schools if they want to let fans back in the stands, Murphy said.
Murphy noted during his Friday COVID-19 news conference that the move is being made now particularly with seniors and their families in mind.
Murphy said the dropping coronavirus-related hospitalizations are allowing for him to loosen regulations.
"The trend of the past two weeks continues: our hospital numbers are dropping," he said.
Entering Friday, just over 2,500 people were hospitalized in New Jersey with coronavirus. Just over 500 patients were in intensive care.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, which governs high school sports, welcomed Murphy's announcement.
"We hope this order marks another positive step in the return to play," the NJSIAA said in a Twitter statement.
The NJSIAA urged parents to be patient, however.
"At the same time, we urge parents to give our member schools time to review the governor's order and determine both overall feasibility and a specific process for increasing occupancy."
The rate of transmission in New Jersey (as of Monday) was at 7.19%, Murphy noted. The most recent rate of transmission was 0.81.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 660,000 positive PCR tests were reported in New Jersey. Another 3,285 new PCR cases were announced Friday. About one month ago, the daily case total neared 7,000.
Another nearly 80,000 antigen tests have been reported since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 20,147 people died from coronavirus-related complications since the start of the pandemic. Another more than 2,200 deaths are presumed to be due to COVID-19.