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March 10, 2021

New Jersey further relaxing indoor limits on restaurants, other businesses

COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped by 52 percent since peaking in mid-January

Government Restrictions
New Jersey capacity limits Jay Wennington/via Unsplash

Restaurants in New Jersey will be allowed to increase indoor dining capacity from 35% to 50% starting March 19.

New Jersey will increase indoor capacity limits on certain New Jersey businesses from 35% to 50% later this month in response to a steady decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

The loosened restrictions take effect Friday, March 19 at the following businesses: 

•Recreational and amusement venues, such as casinos
•Gyms and fitness clubs
•Personal care businesses, such as barbershops and salons

Additionally, the limit on indoor gatherings will expand from 10 to 25 people. The number of people who can gather outdoors will double from 25 to 50.  

The amended capacity limits do not apply to religious ceremonies, political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services or performances. They are limited to 150 people indoors or 35% capacity, whichever number is less. They are not subjected to capacity limits outdoors, so long as social distancing is enforced and masks are worn. 

The eased restrictions come as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to plummet from a record-high of 3,726 in mid-January. 

Since then, COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to 1,961 — about a 52% decline, according to the state's database. Hospitalizations have remained below 2,000 for the past 12 days.

"We feel confident in these steps given the data that we've been seeing over the past five weeks since the last time we expanded the indoor reality," Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday. 

"We believe that, when all factors are weighed, we can make this expansion without leading to undue further stress on our health care system. We will continue to move deliberately, responsibly and incrementally, guided by public health data."

Murphy also urged residents to prioritize outdoor social gatherings, citing improved weather and the lower risk of COVID-19 transmission.

"As our weather finally becomes warmer, I’m encouraging everyone in the strongest possible terms to engage in social activities outside whenever possible," Murphy said. "We know this virus is many times more transmissible and lethal indoors than outdoors."

Last month, New Jersey allowed certain businesses to increase their indoor capacity limits from 25% to 35%. Limits on both indoor and outdoor gatherings were lowered to their current levels in November, a response to a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

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