By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
TRENTON, N.J. — During his regularly-scheduled COVID-19 briefing on Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced a swath of new measures to loosen COVID-19-related restrictions in the state. All of the changes Gov. Murphy announced will take effect on Monday, May 10.
New Jersey’s general outdoor gathering limit has been increased to 500 people — up from the previous metric of 250. Additionally, indoor room capacities for a number of events, including private catered events such as weddings and school proms, political events, funerals, memorial services, and performances, has been increased to 50% with a maximum of 250. Outdoor carnivals and fairs will also be allowed to operate at 50% capacity effective in two weeks, as well.
Gov. Murphy didn’t provide any specific details about school prom events, but he said that the state’s Department of Education will provide more details about this later today.
Additionally, the state has once again changed the definition of a large venue and expanded capacity limits for large venues to 50%. A “large venue” is now classified as any venue with a maximum capacity of 1,000 or more fixed seats. These venues are still required to seat guests with six feet of social distancing, but this change could potentially allow high schools with football stadiums that meet the new “large venue” classification to host in-person graduation ceremonies this year.
Monday’s announcements are expected to be the first of many made to loosen the state’s COVID-19-related restrictions over the upcoming weeks and months.
“We are doing this both because we are expecting the downward trend to continue over the next two weeks, and we want to give businesses, schools, and others the ability to plan ahead and fully prepare,” Gov. Murphy said during his briefing. “Looking at the trend in our numbers over the past couple of weeks, we fully expect to continue our streak of announcing expansions and sticking to them.”
Although Gov. Murphy didn’t make any announcements regarding New Jersey’s mask and social distancing mandates, he did say that the state is “prepared” to relax its social distancing requirements in outdoor settings if the CDC changes its guidance on the matter.
On Wednesday, Gov. Murphy is expected to make announcements about both daytime and overnight summer camps and how they can operate in New Jersey this year. He also noted that restaurants don’t need to adhere to any numbered capacity limit for outdoor dining as the weather warms up. The only COVID-19-related restrictions on outdoor dining will pertain to how many tables restaurants can fit into their given spaces with appropriate social distancing. For now, however, indoor dining is still only allowed to operate at 50% capacity.
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