An order from Governor Phil Murphy limiting events to a total of 500 or fewer fans in the state of New Jersey means that the New York Giants and New York Jets – who both play at Metlife Stadium in the Garden State – will be playing in front of no fans when the season begins, according to nj.com. The available seating will go instead to family members of players and coaches.
Rutgers University will see similarly limited attendance for its football games in the fall as it plays a Big 10-only schedule per conference decision earlier in July.
“We support Gov. Murphy’s decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, both the Jets and Giants will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance,” the teams said in a joint statement. “Although we would prefer to have fans at MetLife Stadium for our games, we will continue to work with Gov. Murphy’s office and will provide updates if necessary.”
New Jersey was one of the hardest hit states in the country during the initial outbreak of COVID-19, due to its proximity to New York and population density. It has logged 183,082 known cases and 15,787 deaths related to the coronavirus, second only to its neighbor across the Hudson. Trends have been extremely positive for the state of late, however, with its 7-day moving average of new cases down to 295 as of Monday afternoon, compared to nearly 4,000 a day at its April peak.
Despite the positive news, the government is taking the cautious approach and keeping crowd sizes limited, though leaving open the possibility for a shift in policy.
“We will continue to closely monitor the public health reality and work with health experts to determine how to move forward, and we will continue to work closely with the teams as conditions change,” said Murphy, a Democrat, in a statement. “Like all fans across New Jersey, I look forward to watching our teams play from home and plan to be there in person to support the teams when it is safe to do so.”
NFL teams are taking a patchwork approach to how they are handling the upcoming season with a myriad of different rules by location put in place by government officials. Some teams have wiped the slate clean entirely, with plans for drastically reduced capacity and a sale to priority customers (generally season ticket members) once that capacity is finalized. Other teams have not yet made any sort of announcement about the fall, presumably in hopes that they will be able to host most, if not all, of their fan bases in person.