Weddings, school proms and other catered events in New Jersey are about to get larger indoors and outside.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that the Garden State would be easing restrictions on indoor catered events, clearing the way for weddings and proms. As of May 10th, indoor catered events can have capacities of 50%, up to 250 people.
Dance floors will be permitted at private catered events as long as masking and social distancing are followed. But, dancing remains banned at nightclubs and bars.
The new restrictions also cover private political events, funerals, memorial services and performances. Religious indoor events can exceed the 250-person capacity limit but are capped at 50%, Murphy said.
The state Department of Education is expected to release specific guidance on proms and graduations later in the day, Murphy said.
People can also gather in groups up to 500 people outside as of May 10.
Murphy on May 10 is also allowing outdoor capacity at venues of 1,000 or more fixed seats (what he considers "large venues") to have capacities up to 50%, as long as there is 6 feet between seated groups.
Murphy didn't stop there: "Outdoor carnivals and fairs are permitted to operate at 50% capacity, aligned with other amusement businesses," he said.
"If you are outside and you can't socially distance you need to wear a mask," Murphy reiterated Monday.
While Murphy didn't increased the 50% indoor dining capacity restriction in what he teased a "major" reopening announcement, he did note Monday that "outdoor dining is not subject to a numerical capacity limitation. The only limitation is the number of groups you can place outdoors that can be spaced six feet apart."
The first-term Democrat credited the state’s expanded COVID vaccine program and coronavirus cases remaining manageable for the changes. The most recent rate of transmission was 0.90 and the positivity rate was 6.44%.
"Should our public health metrics continue to trend as they have been, we would hope to increase (the outdoor limits) yet again before Memorial Day," Murphy said.
Nearly 6.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given out in New Jersey, according to state data. More than 2.8 million people are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Murphy has targeted getting 70% of the state’s adult population, or 4.7 million people, vaccinated by the end of June. At this point the state is around 60% of the way there.
The virus is still spreading in the Garden State, however at a lesser rate. To date, nearly 866,000 PCR test confirmed CVOID-19 cases have been reported in New Jersey and at least 22,788 people are confirmed to have died from coronavirus-related complications.
New Jersey has yet to enter "Stage Three" of its reopening plan that includes "higher-contact activities" restarting "with significant safeguarding."
Expanded dining, limited entertainment, expanded personal care and bar service with limited capacity are among the activities the state lists in "Stage Three."