Sports and entertainment venues with a capacity of 5,000 or more can open to 10% occupancy indoors and 15% outdoors on March 1, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on WFAN Sports Radio Feb. 22.
Additionally, two parents or guardians per person can spectate their collegiate athlete’s sports games, as long as the indoor capacity doesn’t exceed 35% occupancy, effective immediately. This mirrors the same rule that has already been applied to high school sports.
Spectators will not be required to show a negative COVID test to enter into an event.
“This is a day toward which our entire staff has been planning, working and looking forward to for the past 11 months. Those who enter the building will feel confident that our process and protocols are focused on making their safety the number one priority,” said New Jersey Devils President Jake Reynolds in a prepared statement.
Reynolds said Prudential Center protocols, which the center consulted RWJBarnabas Health on, include maximizing social distancing, minimizing contact and using products and technology to ensure the wellbeing, safety and enjoyment of fans and attendees.
“The fan’s journey has been developed to provide consumer confidence from the street to the seat, and we can’t wait to feel their energy welcome them back to the Prudential Center to cheer and celebrate Devils’ victories in person,” he said.
The Prudential Center will open its doors to Devils and New York Islanders fans on March 2. Further information on how to obtain tickets for Devils’ home games will be distributed later in the day Feb. 22.
Regarding how decisions are made to open up or increase capacity limits, Murphy said on WFAN, “We look at hospitalizations, cases, transmission rate, how many people going in or coming out [of the hospitals] today.”
“Fatalities are a lagging indicator, something you sort of get clobbered with after your hospitalizations go up,” he said.
While the administration is keeping “a close eye” on COVID variants, they seem to be preventable by masks and social distancing, he said.
On the vaccination front, 1.7 million New Jerseyans have been vaccinated so far. Murphy said he was “Not satisfied, period” with the vaccine rollout, “but that’s largely due to the fact that the feds have not had the supply that the last administration implied that they would have.”
In anticipation of the further rollout, the Murphy administration has set up 300 vaccination sites on the idea of “build it and they will come”—they, he said, as in vaccines.
Though unsure if New Jersey will meet its earlier goal of having 4.7 million people vaccinated by Memorial Day, he said, “a couple of months from now, that’ll be a whole different ballgame in terms of vaccine access. By May, I think we’ll be close to the point where if you want a vaccine…you’ll be able to get it.”