New Jersey to allow outdoor graduation ceremonies beginning July 6; pro sports can return

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey will allow schools to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies and pro sport teams to return to playing, Governor Phil Murphy announced Tuesday.

Murphy announced the latest relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in a tweet before his regular news conference on the outbreak.

"TO THE CLASS OF 2020: Beginning July 6, schools will have the opportunity to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies that comply with social distancing, ensuring the health and safety of all in attendance," Murphy said.



"Certainly, these will be graduations unlike any others," Murphy said Tuesday during his daily press briefing. "No one will ever forget the way we celebrated the class of 2020."

The setup at Maxwell Field in Wildwood won't be a traditional one as the school's 50 graduates will sit spaced out in the bleachers, while their families will sit in small groups on the field.

"This is going to be extra special for them especially when they thought they were getting nothing and now we're able to do this for them. So, I think it'll be extra special for them. I really do," said Wildwood Commissioner Krista Fitzsimmons.

Schools are closed through June because of the outbreak, but this is the latest easing of restrictions, which have included opening parks and golf courses along with the state's beaches.

"It is for both high school colleges and in fact, we're not even stipulating that it's just high school. It's any graduations of any sort," said Murphy during Tuesday's briefing.

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Gov. Murphy makes announcements concerning outdoor graduations and professional sports in New Jersey.



Murphy also said professional sports teams in New Jersey may return to training and even competition, if their leagues choose to move in that direction.

"We have been in constant discussions with teams about necessary protocols to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and personnel," Murphy said.

Both the Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia Flyers train in New Jersey. The 76ers hold practices at the 76ers Training Complex in Camden, the Flyers practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.

At the shore, a Wildwood staple is back, with modifications. The famous tram car now has plastic dividers to give each group its own compartment.

"I think people are taking it seriously. As long as everybody is not too crowded, it's good," said Liberty Rose, of New Orleans, who used to ride the tram as a child.

In Wildwood and North Wildwood, short term rentals are now allowed and property owners are getting ready.

Hotels and motels may open at 60% capacity in North Wildwood and Wildwood.

"It's baby steps to get us to as close to 100% as we're going to get," said Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron. "By opening up the hotels and the motels it gives people a feeling like, ok, better days are ahead."

Many officials at the shore say small businesses are suffering and hope dining and retail restrictions are lifted soon.

Gov. Murphy said overall Memorial Day weekend went well, but the real social distancing test will be when good beach weather returns.

New Jersey has 155,764 positive cases and 11,191 deaths from the virus.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

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