Gov. Murphy announces loosening of COVID-19 restrictions

In the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy has announced the easing of restrictions for a variety of activities and higher outdoor capacity limits, effective May 10.

Murphy made the announcement on April 26.

The changes, which include higher outdoor gathering limits, higher large venue outdoor capacities, higher maximum capacities for private catered events, and more, come as COVID-19 metrics are on the decline and as more New Jerseyans continue to receive COVID-19 vaccines, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.

β€œOur robust COVID-19 vaccination program is starting to show results through lower COVID-19 case metrics, including a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Murphy said.

β€œThis allows us to take steps so New Jerseyans can have a much more normal summer, including allowing for students to celebrate important milestones and events like graduations and proms in person.

“We hope to announce further reopening steps in the coming weeks as more and more state residents get vaccinated,” the governor said.

β€œThe continued cooperation with public health preventive measures and increasing vaccination rates among New Jersey residents allows for this easing of restrictions in the state,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

β€œWe encourage all residents 16 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine. It will not only protect you, but it will help us drive down community spread so we can reopen the state further,” she said.

According to the press release, the changes include:

β€’ Outdoor Gatherings: The outdoor gathering limit will be raised to 500 persons from 200 persons. COVID-19 metrics will continue to be evaluated with the hope of raising the limit again, perhaps considerably, prior to Memorial Day;

β€’ Large Venue Outdoor Capacity: Outdoor capacity limits will be raised to 50% capacity for venues with 1,000 fixed seats or more. The current limit is 30% capacity for venues with 2,500 fixed seats or more. All attendees at these events are required to be 6 feet apart from other attendees, except that individuals who purchase or reserve tickets together may be seated together, but must be 6 feet away from all other groups or individuals in all directions;

β€’ Maximum Capacity for Certain Indoor Activities: Capacity limits for indoor private catered events, including proms, will be raised to 50% capacity of the room in which the event is being held, with a maximum of 250 individuals. The current limit is 35% capacity of the room in which the event is held, with a maximum of 150 individuals. These events must continue to follow all indoor dining protocols;

β€’ The limit for political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services and performances occurring indoors will similarly increase to 50% capacity, with a maximum of 250 individuals. Indoor religious services will continue to operate at 50% capacity, without a numerical cap;

β€’ Dance Floors at Indoor Catered Events: Dance floors will be permitted to open at indoor private catered events, including proms, with masking and social distancing requirements in place. Dance floors will remain closed at bars and other related businesses, such as nightclubs.

β€’ Graduations and Proms: Schools and universities will be able to use the newly raised outdoor gathering and large venue capacity limits to hold more robust graduation ceremonies. Proms will benefit from the increases to indoor private catered event capacity and the allowance of dance floors at such events. The Department of Education and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education will be issuing guidance to assist schools and institutions in preparing for these end-of-year events.

β€’ Carnivals and Fairs: Effective May 10, carnivals and fairs are explicitly permitted to operate at outdoor amusement business capacity limits, which currently stand at 50% capacity.