EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (WABC) -- More businesses reopened in New Jersey Thursday as the state continues to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.
The easing of restrictions comes ahead of the July 4th holiday weekend, but indoor dining -- which was set to begin Thursday as well -- remains off limits.
Racetracks, casinos, playgrounds, museums, aquariums, libraries, bowling allies, batting cages, and amusement and water parks can all open their doors, which is big news for area boardwalks and Atlantic City -- but everywhere you can now go, you must wear a mask.
Casinos, however, are not allowed indoor food or beverage service, meaning no drinking while gambling, and smoking is prohibited. Those regulations prompted the Borgata casino to delay reopening.
Governor Phil Murphy said he was also raising the limit on crowd size for outdoor gatherings to 500 people, effective Friday, though limits on all indoor gatherings of 25% of capacity, but with a maximum of 100 people remain unchanged. That includes indoor pools, which can now reopen at 25% capacity with social distancing in place.
Murphy also announced that flags, which have been at half staff for 90 days to honor New Jersey COVID-19 victims, will be raised to full staff Friday to commemorate Independence Day.
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"For us to continue down this road back, everyone needs to be an example of personal responsibility," Murphy said. "It isn't up to some of us to beat COVID-19. It's up to every single one of the 9 million of us."
Among places fans are able to visit again is the Meadowlands racetrack in East Rutherford, which opened its grandstand at 25% capacity with facemask requirements and temperature checks.
FanDuel Sports Book will also begin accepting on-site bets on sporting events.
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Officials also announced that cash fares on New Jersey Transit trains will resume Monday. The usual $5 surcharge will apply. Riders are still encouraged to buy tickets on mobile apps if possible.
Cash fares on NJ Transit buses will resume in the coming weeks once safety partitions are installed to protect bus drivers.
One thing not returning to New Jersey on Thursday is indoor dining, after the governor initially said it would start heading into the holiday weekend.
But given the new spike in cases in other parts of the country, indoor dining is on an indefinite pause.
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