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Assemblywoman Dunn, State Sen. Bucco: With Indoor Increases, Time to Let Parents Back Into the Stands

Two Republican lawmakers from the 25th Legislative District want fans back in the stands after the recent expansion of indoor gatherings.

GOP Assemblywoman Aura Dunn and State Sen. Anthony Bucco are pressing Gov. Phil Murphy to allow the parents of high school and youth athletes to be spectators at indoor events currently prohibited due to the efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“We should be encouraging parents to support their student athletes and cheer them on from a distance,” said Bucco (R-25) in a press statement. “By following common-sense precautions, social distancing, and wearing masks, a limited number of family members would be able to enjoy games without risk of spreading the virus.”

Follow Precedent

The call comes as indoor dining capacity was increased to 35% and the 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars was lifted Feb. 5. The executive order allowed gyms, casinos, personal care businesses, and amusement and recreation facilities to operate at 35% of their capacity as well. 

Additionally, indoor performance venues, political activities, and gatherings for religious ceremonies and services including wedding ceremonies, memorial services and funerals can be held at the new capacity limit with a maximum of 150 individuals.

“If casinos and entertainment venues can increase capacity, then parents should be permitted to watch their children play indoor sports under those same limits,” argued Dunn. “Arbitrarily applying different rules for spectators at a sports game doesn’t make any sense.”

Current Limitations

Currently, indoor practices and competitions are limited to 10 people. However, if the number of individuals who are necessary for practice or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, exceeds 10, the practice or competition may proceed provided no spectators are present.

“As long as there are safety protocols like social distancing and masks, I don’t understand why parents need to be subjected to different rules than if they were to go to the gym or theater,” said Dunn. “These student athletes and parents are playing by the rules, but yet they are subjected to restrictions that defy logic.” 

Allowing parents into stands is a goal that Murphy has previously publicly stated. 

Murphy Opened the Door

When questioned the opening day of the high school basketball season Jan. 26 if there was any chance that parents will be allowed to attend games before the season ends on March 6, Murphy said “The answer to your question about allowing some amount of folks in to watch the games if the numbers continue to get better, I think the answer to that is yes.” 

The governor cited a 20% decline in hospitalizations over three weeks as a key health metric that made him and health officials feel comfortable to increase the capacity limits. It’s one that Dunn and Bucco believe should be carried over to spectators at amatuer sporting events.

Allow Parents In

“I would like the Governor to reexamine the facts and help restore…normalcy for these student athletes and moms and dads,” said Dunn.

Bucco argued that Murphy’s policies don’t make any sense when it comes to allowing parents to be present at indoor high school and youth sports games. 

“Parents find it difficult to believe that they are permitted to watch their kids skate at the rink, but the rules are different for school sports,” said the Morris County lawmaker. “With a few common-sense precautions, this can be accomplished quickly and safely for the benefit of our student athletes and families.”

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