TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The children of New Jersey will soon be permitted to take part in some normal summer activities.

Gov. Phil Murphy said as much on Friday during his daily coronavirus media briefing.

Over the next several weeks, the state will allow child care services, organized youth sports practices, and youth day camps, including municipal summer recreation programs, to resume. Specific safety directives for each are expected to be released by the Department of Health soon.

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Specifically, child care services can begin on June 15, youth sports practices on June 22, and youth day camps on July 6.

“Especially for the countless kids who have been looking forward to playing baseball, or softball or soccer, or any other sports, we are proud to take this step,” Murphy said. “We want you to have an active summer with your friends, playing the sport you love, but at the same time while protecting your health.”

The governor said he had “every confidence” that leagues would be able to ensure athletes’ health and safety.

The kids aren’t the only ones who are happy about the news; parents and guardians who have been trying to juggle work and homeschooling are also breathing a sigh of relief.

Two and a half months into COVID-19 it’s become a common refrain: the kids are getting restless and parents have had enough.

“We are homeschooling the 6-year-old and the 3-year-old has not been able to attend day care since April,” grandmother Adelaide Torpila told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.

Torpila is in a unique situation, caring for her grandchildren. She needs help but her husband works full-time.

“Yes, it’s a matter of putting food on the table and providing for the bills but also taking care of children,” she said.

“We’ve had parents who called us crying,” said Gigi Schweikert, president and COO of Lightbridge Academy. “Can’t choose between the care and protection of my child and having a job.”

She says be assured, there will be changes to protect little ones.

“We are also going to be taking temperatures,” she said. “It maybe a little different in that they’ll see teachers who are wearing a mask now.”

Stacey Rudin, a mother of two, says her daughters’ day camp is waiting for more guidance from the governor, but she’s ready when they are.

“I’m very comfortable sending the girls,” she said. “It’s hard on families to have no structure.”

It’s unclear what happens with the facilities that already told families they would have to cancel for the summer.

“I hate to hear that camps are being put in the position of thinking they cannot operate unless they guarantee safety which is not some thing I think anyone can do,” Rudin said.

Still, with all the unknowns, some parents are not only hesitant, they’re totally against sending their children back into a classroom or camp full of kids.

“It’s really important for the parent to do what they think feels right,” Schweikert said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

In addition, the governor said horse racing, without fans in the stands, will be allowed at state tracks as soon as next weekend.

The news is also good for religious services, with the governor saying, “As long as our health metrics continue to trend in the right direction, I anticipate being able to raise the limit on indoor gatherings in a way that will allow for greater indoor religious services beginning the weekend of June 12.”

Murphy said the medical data continues to suggest the state is making serious progress in its fight to slow the rate of COVID-19 infection.

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As far as how it compares with the rest of the nation, New Jersey is currently eighth in new cases per 100,000 residents, which is a significant drop compared to recent days, and fourth in new deaths per 100,000 residents, a number also on the decline.

The governor said he and his team are keeping an eye on one stat in particular — patients in the hospital per 100,000 residents — as New Jersey continues to lead the U.S.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There were 1,117 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s total since the pandemic began to 158,844. Of those, roughly 32,000 of those cases have been in long-term care facilities.

In addition, there were 131 new deaths, upping the overall count to 11,531. That number includes 5,009 in long-term care facilities.

Rental Assistance Program

For those worrying about paying their rent, Murphy said the state is putting together a program that will provide $100 million, primarily in Cares Act funding, to short-term rental assistance for low- and moderate-income families.

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“From the moment this emergency took hold, we have made it clear that no family should fear losing their home as a result of financial hardship due to COVID-19. And as another rent day approaches, I want to reiterate that point,” Murphy said. “Our strong eviction and foreclosure moratoriums remain firmly in place, and will remain enforced until weeks after this emergency eventually comes to an end.”

Murphy said he hopes to have more on the program in the coming days, but said the state hopes to have the first rental assistance checks in the mail to landlords later this summer.

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