By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
TRENTON, N.J. — In less than a week, New Jersey will make its most aggressive push to reopen the state since the COVID-19 pandemic began last month. Governor Phil Murphy reaffirmed his desire for the state to reopen during his regularly-scheduled COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
The state will lift nearly all of its current COVID-19 restrictions next week — including capacity restrictions on businesses and the general outdoor gathering limit. Indoor businesses like restaurants, gyms, stores, and recreational centers will have no fixed, percentage-based capacity limit beginning next Wednesday. Large venues, which are defined as any arena or stadium with more than 1,000 fixed seats, will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, paving the way for events ranging from sports to high school and college commencement ceremonies to go ahead with limited crowds. Although the state’s percentage-based capacity restrictions will be lifted, community members will still be required to wear masks indoors and socially distance, per CDC guidelines.
Gov. Murphy signed an executive order yesterday to officially put these changes into effect starting next week.
“Our business community and especially our restaurants have been preparing for this since we announced these plans nine days ago. Since all the current metrics are continuing to point in the right direction, today I will be signing an executive order that will effectuate all of the steps outlined for next Wednesday, May 19,” Gov. Murphy said during his COVID-19 briefing.
Since Gov. Murphy announced the rollback of restrictions on May 3, New Jersey’s COVID-19 figures have continued to trend in the right direction. As of yesterday, New Jersey’s seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases dipped below 1,000 to 975, which is down 68% from a month ago. The seven-day average of 975 new COVID-19 cases is the state’s lowest since October.
Additionally, a total of 7,754,102 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine models have been administered statewide, according to New Jersey’s COVID-19 dashboard. More than 3.5 million people have received their second Pfizer or Moderna dose (or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson model) at a New Jersey vaccine location, while 4,496,111 people in the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Despite vaccine hesitancy and a healthy amount of campaigning from New Jersey, the state is still on track to meet its goal of fully inoculating 4.7 million people — a figure that represents 70% of New Jersey’s adult population — by the end of next month.
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