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February 03, 2021

N.J. to relax indoor capacity limits, lift dining curfew

Gov. Phil Murphy cited decreasing hospitalizations and the lower COVID-19 transmission rate as the reason behind the change

Government Coronavirus
NJ indoor capacity Tim Larsen/New Jersey Office of the Governor

Gov. Phil Murphy says New Jersey can increase indoor capacity at restaurants and entertainment venues without placing undue stress on the health care system.

Restaurants, entertainment venues and salons are among various New Jersey businesses that will be permitted to increase their indoor capacities at 8 a.m. Friday. 

The change, which raises capacity limits from 25% to 35%, is being made in response to improving public health indicators. 

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations have dropped by 20% over the last three weeks, and the state's transmission rate remained at 0.95 for the second straight day. Any figure below 1 indicates transmission is slowing. 

"We believe we can make this expansion without leading to undue further stress on our health care system," Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday. 

"We are able to take steps forward today because of the millions of you who have taken responsibility for ending this pandemic to heart through constant social distancing, wearing your face masks and exercising common sense."

The following activities can relax indoor capacity restrictions:

• Indoor dining at restaurants
Entertainment and recreation venues, such as casinos and gyms
• Personal care businesses, including barbershops and salons
• Indoor performances, religious services, wedding ceremonies, political activities and funerals with no more than 150 people

The state's 10 p.m. curfew on indoor dining service also will be lifted Friday. However, local restrictions may remain in place after 8 p.m. if a municipality or county chooses to do so. 

Bar seating will remain prohibited due to the close proximity between customers and staff, Murphy said. He also emphasized that public health protocols, including mask wearing and sanitization practices, must be strictly enforced.

Indoor dining resumed in New Jersey in September at 25% capacity after being shut down for nearly six months. It initially was slated to resume in early July, but officials postponed the plan after COVID-19 cases spiked in other states that had reopened restaurants.

As COVID-19 cases spiked again in November, Murphy ordered restaurants to shut down indoor dining between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and to restrict bar seating. The measure also impacted clubs, lounges and casinos.

Personal care businesses reopened at 25% capacity in June. Casinos were cleared to resume in July, with gyms following in September.

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