Parents, welcome back.

All spectators other than essential personnel have been prohibited from attending indoor youth and high school sporting events since New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order dictating those measures late last year. But now, with COVID-19 numbers improving statewide and parents voicing their frustration over not being able to attend their kids' games, those restrictions will be coming to an end.

Murphy is expected to sign an executive order Friday that will allow parents to watch indoor youth and high school practices and games. There has been speculation for the past week that Murphy, a father of a student-athlete himself who has expressed his empathy to parents being barred from games, would soon lift the restrictions. In January he hinted that spectators would be allowed if coronavirus numbers continued to improve.

NJ Advance Media was the first to report that Murphy would amend the restrictions to allow parents in as spectators and other outlets, including USA Today NJ, have since authored similar reports.

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The expectation is that Murphy's executive order will allow two parents or guardians for each student-athlete to attend interscholastic sporting events. Venues must remain at 35 percent capacity or under with a limit of 150 people. The individual school districts can be more restrictive if that is their determination.

The order will go into effect immediately, so technically there could be parents at games today, Friday, Feb. 12, although schools may still need time to prepare measures such as temperature checks, contract tracing forms and more.

The New Jersey high school ice hockey, bowling, and girls and boys basketball seasons are currently underway. Hockey began on January 15 while bowling and basketball started their seasons on Jan. 26. The next two sports set to begin in the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association's "Season 2" are swimming and indoor track and field, which begin competition on Tuesday.

The "Season 3" sports are wrestling, gymnastics and girls volleyball, which can start practice on March 1 and open their season on March 16.

On Feb. 3, Murphy raised the capacity limited for restaurants, gyms and other businesses from 25% to 35% with a maximum of 150 people and allowed restaurants to remain open past 10 p.m.


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