NJ increases some COVID reopening milestones for proms, allows bar seating and buffets starting Friday

New Jersey is taking its next steps to reopen – including increasing outdoor gathering limits and capacity limits for indoor dining events – Monday through Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday, revealing a number of new measures to lift coronavirus restrictions.

The state will also allow the return of indoor bar seats that day, as well as buffets and other self-service meals at restaurants, Murphy said during his latest COVID-19 briefing in Trenton. .

The announcements come as Murphy revealed that the state will drop many of its other major capacity restrictions on May 19, including fixed interior limits at restaurants and retail stores, while removing all rally caps by outdoors. But masks will still be needed indoors, as well as outdoors when social distancing is not possible, and facilities should always keep groups at least six feet away, which could prevent some restaurants. and places to reach their full potential.

Murphy announced last month that a number of milestones would occur on May 10. They will now come into force on Friday. These steps include:

  • The state limit on outdoor gatherings will increase from 200 to 500.
  • Capacity limits for outdoor sports and entertainment venues with more than 1,000 seats will be reduced to 50%. This will allow for larger graduation ceremonies for middle and high schools.
  • Fairs and parades can operate at 50% of their capacity.
  • Indoor events, such as weddings and balls, will be able to operate at 50% capacity, with a maximum of 250 people, and dance floors will be able to reopen.

“We are confident to move this three-day schedule forward, given the accelerated progress we are seeing in our immunization schedule and hospital settings, and the declining number of daily cases,” said Murphy.

The governor noted that moving the date up would give the pledges an extra weekend to operate under the new rules.

RELATED: NJ will drop many COVID restrictions on May 19. Restaurant, indoor capacity limits eliminated, but social distancing rules remain.

Murphy said the State Department of Health was finalizing guidelines for bar seating and buffets. But he noted that all restaurants and bars keep a six-foot distance between groups in bars or install physical partitions.

“We are relying on restaurants and bar owners to enforce these guidelines and prevent congregating at the bar, as we have always warned that these situations pose a high risk of allowing the virus to spread,” Murphy said.

He also said the state will likely require people to be seated at their tables to eat and drink, and whether you must wear a mask if you are not at your table.

As of May 19, the state:

  • Remove all outdoor gathering limits, although all participants should keep at least six feet apart and wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.
  • End percentage-based capacity limits in restaurants, although restaurants must keep a distance of at least six feet between groups or install a physical partition between them. Tables will also no longer be limited to eight people. Currently, restaurant capacity is limited to 50%.
  • End capacity limits for church services, stores, gyms, personal care businesses, indoor and outdoor amusement parks, provided these locations can maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between groups. Currently, the capacity is limited to 50%.
  • Increasing the indoor gathering limit for private parties and other social events will increase from 25 to 50 people. Organized events, as well as conferences, exhibitions and trade shows, will be limited to a maximum of 250 people, as long as social distancing is maintained.
  • Increase the capacity limit to 50% for events held at indoor venues with 1,000 or more fixed seats, provided ticketed groups are at least 6 feet apart.

People should always wear a mask for all indoor activities, except when eating or drinking.

“These are the most aggressive steps we have taken to reopen to date, and we are confident that it is safe to do so, as our numbers have moved decisively in the right direction over the past three weeks.” , Murphy said.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracking | Newsletter | Home page

New Jersey’s COVID-19 numbers have improved especially in recent days. The state’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive tests is now 1,561, down 32% from a week ago and 61% from a month ago. There were 1,424 coronavirus patients in state hospitals on Sunday evening, the lowest since November 7.

This comes from the fact that more than 3.1 have been fully immunized in the state – about 45% of the state’s 6.9 million adults. The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of its eligible adult population – around 4.7 million people – by the end of June. More than 4.3 million people – about 62% of the state’s adults – have received at least one dose.

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Brent Johnson can be reached at [email protected].

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