TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Governor Phil Murphy announced that he would be relaxing restrictions a few days sooner than anticipated and that the state would be taking part in a coordinated reopening later this month alongside New York and Connecticut.
"We feel confident in moving up this timetable given the accelerated progress we're seeing in our vaccination program, hospital metrics, and daily case counts," Murphy said.
Effective May 7, New Jersey is lifting the rule that doesn't allow indoor bar-side seating. Proper social distancing between patrons will be required.
The state is also lifting the rule against buffets and other self-service foods at restaurants.
On May 19, in coordination with the governors of New York and Connecticut, New Jersey anticipates completely removing the limit on outdoor gatherings. All attendees or groups of attendees will be required to keep social distances of at least six feet. Current mask requirements will remain in place.
Also effective May 19, the 50% capacity on indoor dining limit will be removed. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at whatever capacity allows them to continue to ensure a minimum six-foot distance between groups.
The 50% capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings/businesses currently governed by percentage-based cap will be lifted on May 19. Six feet of social distance will be required between individuals and groups.
The general indoor social gathering limit will increase to 50 individuals.
On May 19, indoor capacities for the following will be limited to a maximum of 250 people so long as social distances can be maintained:
- Catered events
- Funerals or memorial services
- Political activities
- Commercial gatherings
Indoor capacity for large venues (1,000 or more fixed seats) can increase to 30% - with six feet of distance between ticketed groups.
"The steps announced today are the most aggressive steps we have taken to reopen to date. We feel confident we can do this safely because our numbers have trended decisively in the right direction over the last three weeks," Murphy said.
He urged all New Jerseyans to help keep the numbers down by getting vaccinated.
Full Details of Tri-State Announcement:
Effective May 19, most business capacities -- which are currently based upon percentage of maximum occupancy -- will be removed in New York and New Jersey. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet. This new distance-based maximum capacity will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barbershops, and other personal care services, among other settings. It will also apply in houses of worship.
Increase in Social and Residential Gathering Limits
In New York beginning May 10, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase from 200 to 500 people. Beginning May 19, the indoor social gathering limit will increase from 100 to 250 people. Also, the outdoor residential gathering limit of 25 people will be removed, reverting to the social gathering limit of 500 people with space for appropriate social distancing, and the indoor residential gathering limit will increase from 10 to 50 people. In New York, any event gatherings in excess of the social gathering limits may only occur if all individuals present proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Congregate commercial and social events in New York-such as those at venues that host sports competitions, performing arts and live entertainment, and catered receptions-can exceed the social gathering limits of 500 people outdoors or 250 people indoors if all attendees over the age of four present either proof of full vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test result and the required social distancing can be accommodated.
Starting May 19, large-scale indoor event venues will operate at 30 percent capacity, which is an increase from the current 10 percent capacity limit. Large-scale outdoor event venues will operate at 33 percent. Social distancing, masks, and other applicable health protocols will still apply, including the requirement of attendee proof of full vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test result.
Industry Reopening Requirements
While most industry capacity restrictions will be lifted, industry-specific requirements will remain in effect for a longer period of time, including state or local health authority event notification, health screening, contact information for tracing, enhanced air handling and building system standards, hand hygiene, and environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols. The state will continue to provide additional guidance on these provisions as they apply to each industry.
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