Gov. Murphy issues clarification, says contact sports must be played outside

Trish Hartman Image
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
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Governor Phil Murphy issued a clarification about high-risk contact sports saying all contact drills or competitions must be outside.

PITMAN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued a clarification about high-risk contact sports on Wednesday, saying all contact drills or competitions must be outside.

This week marked the first week back for St. Joseph's University youth soccer camp in New Jersey, and coaches say it's been hot - but fun.

"They've been stuck at home for months now so, even though it's 100 degrees out, they're excited to be here playing so it's been a positive experience so far," said Don D'Ambra, head coach for the St. Joseph's University men's soccer team and director of the youth camp program.

Extra water breaks and a cool hose-down throughout the day kept the campers going at Total Turf Experience in Pitman.

He says while they had to cancel their camps in Pennsylvania, they were able to hold some because of the guidelines in New Jersey.

Soccer falls into the medium-risk category of contact sports in New Jersey and can be played indoors as well, as long as there's no contact.

D'Ambra said younger campers have been moved inside to a large area where they can social distance and keep cool.

But health officials keep saying outside is safer than inside. Murphy issued a clarification for high-risk contact sports Wednesday.

"This order requires that all contact activities can only be conducted outside in the open air," said Murphy.

D'Ambra says while coaches are wearing masks, the players don't have to while they are playing. But they do wear them to and from the field. They also use cones to remind players to social distance when they're gathering for announcements.

"It just feels so good. After what's happened, I just missed soccer so much," said Kori Leacott, of Washington Township.

The kids say camp is definitely different this year.

"Everybody's social distancing. It's kind of different than usual practices," said Catherine Aversa, from Washington Township.

They're still happy to be back on the field, after months of canceled activities.

"My mom told me and as soon as she said that I was so excited I just was like, when is it? And I really wanted to get back," said Leacott.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Murphy clarified that martial arts, yoga and pilates studios may operate indoors at 25% capacity with masks and social distancing. Gyms and health clubs are still restricted to one-on-one training indoors.