Governor Phil Murphy announced a major easing of restrictions in New Jersey as part of a coordinated reopening with New York and Connecticut. A favorable COVID-19 numbers trending has made possible an additional easing of restrictions, including removal of all percentage capacity limits for indoor and outdoor businesses, a lifting of the prohibition on indoor bar seating, and an end to the outdoor gathering limit.
“With our COVID-19 numbers, particularly hospitalizations, trending decisively in the right direction and our vaccination goals within reach, now is the time to take major steps to reopen our economy and loosen both indoor and outdoor gathering and capacity restrictions,” said Governor Murphy.
As reported by ABCNY, effective May 7, New Jersey is lifting the rule that does not allow indoor bar-side seating. Proper social distancing between patrons will be required. The state is also lifting the rule against buffets and other self-service foods at restaurants.
Coordinated restrictions easing
On May 19, in coordination with the governors of New York and Connecticut, New Jersey anticipates completely removing the limit on outdoor gatherings. All attendees or groups of attendees will be required to keep social distances of at least six feet. Current mask requirements will remain in place.
Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet. This new distance-based maximum capacity will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barbershops, and other personal care services, among other settings. It will also apply in houses of worship.
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Also, effective May 19, the 50% capacity on indoor dining limit will be removed. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at whatever capacity allows them to continue to ensure a minimum six-foot distance between groups.
The 50% capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings/businesses currently governed by percentage-based cap will be lifted on May 19. Six feet of social distance will be required between individuals and groups.
The general indoor social gathering limit will increase to 50 individuals.
On May 19, indoor capacities will be limited to a maximum of 250 people so long as social distances can be maintained for the following: Catered events, funerals or memorial services, performances, political activities, commercial gatherings.
Indoor capacity for large venues (1,000 or more fixed seats) can increase to 30% with six feet of distance between ticketed groups.
“The steps announced today are the most aggressive steps we have taken to reopen to date. We feel confident we can do this safely because our numbers have trended decisively in the right direction over the last three weeks,” Murphy said.
“We’ve done this the right way, in partnership with our neighboring states of New York and Connecticut, and by allowing data, science, and public health to guide our decision-making,” the Governor added.
However, he urged all state residents to get vaccinated. “I encourage all remaining eligible New Jerseyans to get vaccinated so we can continue fighting back against this virus and move toward a new normal.”