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April 26, 2021

N.J. further relaxes capacity limits on indoor, outdoor gatherings

Latest easement of restrictions could be the first of many over the coming weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday

Government Coronavirus
N.J. COVID-19 restrictions Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Concert venues like the BB&T Pavilion will be allowed to hold 50% capacity starting May 10.

New Jersey will relax its COVID-19 restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings on May 10, allowing for greater numbers of people to attend events like proms, graduations and outdoor fairs and carnivals, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

These charges are expected to be the first in a slew of steps to ease restrictions implemented reduce the spread of the coronavirus. 

The capacity limits for private indoor events – like high school proms, weddings and funerals – will increase to 50% of a facility's capacity, but no greater than 250 people.

Dance floors will be permitted at indoor events so long as guests wear face masks and practice social distancing. Murphy said the state will issue guidelines this week to schools for hosting proms.

Also on May 10, the number of people allowed to attend outdoor gatherings will increase from 200 to 500, and that number could rise substantially more in the following weeks, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

"We would hope to increase this yet again before Memorial Day, perhaps substantially, so everyone should look at this 500-person limit as a new floor," Murphy said. "But that requires all of us to continue doing the right thing."

Outdoor sports and entertainment venues with at least 1,000 fixed seats and outdoor carnivals and fairs will also be permitted to operate at 50% occupancy.

Groups of people attending events at outdoor venues still need to practice social distancing, but people do not need to wear face masks if at least 6 feet apart from others.

The downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey have allowed the state to ease its restrictions, Murphy said.

"Because of everything you're doing, whether it's continuing to wear your masks and social distancing or getting vaccinated, you are helping us crush these curves, yet again," Murphy said. "And because of that, we are pleased to be able to take more steps forward in our reopening process."

"As we've said from Day 1, we've been eager to relax our restrictions as soon as the numbers gave us confidence that we could do safely and responsibly, and that time has come." 

New Jersey has administered over 6.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and more than 2.8 million residents are fully vaccinated. The state is 60% to its goal of getting 4.7 million residents fully vaccinated by the end of June.

Hospitalizations have dropped by roughly 25% in the state since April 7, and New Jersey's rate of COVID-19 transmission remains below 1.

"I would hope that these are the first set of announcements of ... many sets of announcements over the next number of weeks," Murphy said. "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."

Murphy urged residents who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 to get their shots, and he encourages New Jerseyans to plan outdoor events and gatherings rather than ones indoors, especially with the return of warm weather.

Earlier this month, banquet halls and similar venues were permitted to resume hosting private indoor events. These event spaces have had to adhere to a capacity limit of 35% or 150 people, whichever number is less. 

Political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services and performances have also needed to follow the same indoor occupancy guidelines. These activities, however, are not subjected to capacity limits outdoors, so long as social distancing is enforced or masks are worn. 

The state's outdoor capacity limit rose from 50 to 200 people in April. New Jersey began allowing fans at sports stadiums and entertainment venues in March for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic

The state's indoor gatherings limit will remain at no more than 25 people. Capacity at large indoor venues will stay at 20%. Indoor religious services will remain at 50% occupancy. 

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