UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Indoor sports in New Jersey has received the green light from Gov. Phil Murphy, despite an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state.

So what made the governor change his mind?

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Two 11-year-old ice hockey players told CBS2’s Meg Baker they were thrilled to hear the news that they soon can do more than just practice. They are ready for opponents.

“We enjoy it, especially the games, so it’s definitely to look forward to it,” one said.

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The governor lifted the competition ban for sports like ice hockey, basketball, cheerleading and karate.

Yet, the Garden State still has a coronavirus problem. Murphy announced more than 1,000 new cases during his daily press conference on Tuesday.

So Baker asked him what made him change course on indoor sports.

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“Those indoor activities do not appear — the ones that we have already allowed and the steps that we’re taking today — they do not appear to be correlated with where cases are coming from,” Murphy said.


Coaches, parents and some Republican lawmakers pressured the governor to allow indoor games, citing medium-risk factors. On Monday, Baker spoke to hockey coach Silio Garcia outside of Union Sports Arena.

“Right now, if you walk into this rink they do a great job. The kids are all separated on the benches. The benches are all disinfected after every session,” Garcia said, adding when asked if he’s confident everyone will be safe, “They all wear masks while they are sitting down. They don’t wear their masks when they are on the ice. All the coaches wear masks.”

State Sen. Anthony Bucco explained the rationale for now allowing sports like hockey to resume.

“A lot of these groups, especially the hockeys groups, the indoor hockey groups, were practicing indoors and then spending weekends traveling out of state and competing, because other states are allowing indoor competition. So why not keep our kids home, set the necessary safety protocols that we need, and allow them to be right here at home safe and secure in their own arenas,” Bucco said.

All indoor practices and competitions are limited to players and coaches only — no spectators.

Murphy said the majority of new COVID-19 cases stem from religious holidays and congregate living, like in college dorms.

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