UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in New Jersey, officials are warning residents to stay strong this New Year’s Eve and celebrate differently.

Also, there is a bit of good news for youth sports, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.

Arenas like the one in Union will be back in business this weekend with ice hockey and other winter sports. This after Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the ban on youth indoor sports. However, he is urging people to remain vigilant.

“We know 2021 will bring better days, but we’re going to have to greet the new year on the same war footing with which we are ending 2020,” Murphy said.

Watch: N.J. Gov. Murphy’s Daily Coronavirus Press Conference

Good riddance to 2020, but, unfortunately, the big celebrations will have to wait, as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. Murphy is pleading with people to use common sense.

“Let’s celebrate the end of 2020, folks, responsibly, small ball, so we can all celebrate the better days to come,” Murphy said.

Vaccines bring hope for a better tomorrow, but Dr. Perry Halkitis, the dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, said we still have months to go before we are in the clear.

“The rollout of a vaccine is going to take much longer than we thought it would,” Halkitis said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The Center for Disease Control’s advice for a safe holiday is to stay home in your pod. But if you are gathering, it “should be outside, if possible, with wearing masks,” Halkitis said.

One bright spot for the new year is youth indoor sports being allowed to resume on Saturday, with restrictions. For those wondering why, Murphy said, “We recognize that any continuance of the pause  would likely mean that many sports’ seasons would have to be scrapped entirely. We do not wish to see that happen. We know that sports are important for both the physical and mental wellness for our youth and our other residents.”

The governor said the state will handle individual cases as they come up instead of issuing a blanket prohibition.

Murphy said he still reserves the right to pull back if need be, but hopes indoor sports will go on safely.

All interstate sports activity remains prohibited because there is still too high of a risk of transmission.

CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report

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