Indoor gatherings increased from a limit of 10 people to 25, while outdoor gatherings went from 25 to 50 people.
The new limits don't apply to religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, funerals or memorial services, which have higher or no limits. Seating at bars is still prohibited.
Outdoor interstate youth competitions also resumed, but the ban on indoor interstate competitions remains in place.
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Still, Murphy cited numbers that are "still uncomfortably too high," including a daily positivity rate that averages 7% and 2,000 coronavirus patients in hospitals, when explaining why the state has been cautious in its reopening plans.
"We have the same concern," he told CNBC Friday. "We know we've got the New York variant, the UK variant, I guess the Brazil variant. We are part of the same reality a year ago. The densest part of the nation, we are the densest state in the nation, right on top of the New York Metro reality. Invariably, what hits them will hit us and vice versa. So we are watching that all of that very closely."
Earlier this week, Murphy said he expects to have all schools open for full-time in person learning by the start of the 2021-2022 academic year.
The state has now distributed more than 3 million COVID-19 vaccines, with 1.1 million people fully vaccinated, and Murphy said the focus on vaccinating teachers will only increase safety at schools that are already showing low transmission rates.
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He said there have only been 800 cases linked to in-person learning since August 1, out of 565,000 confirmed cases statewide. He also said the biggest shift back to in-person learning has been in the last week, and more than half of all schools are at least on a hybrid system.
"(Thursday marked) one year since all of our schools closed and transitioned to all-remote learning," he said. "Now is the time for all of our schools to meaningfully move forward with a return to in-person instruction, whether it be full-time or through a hybrid schedule."
Additionally, beginning on Monday, March 29, frontline essential workers in the following categories are also eligible for vaccination:
--Food production, agriculture, and food distribution
--Eldercare and support
--Warehousing and logistics
--Social services support staff
--Medical supply chain
--Postal and shipping services
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