Gov. Phil Murphy announced New Jersey is loosening restrictions on indoor dining, recreational centers and personal care businesses during a press conference on Feb 3., increasing the capacity from 25 percent to 35 percent effective Friday.
Murphy cited a 20 percent decrease in new coronavirus cases over the last three weeks and a rise in vaccination efforts — now reaching 837,225 doses — explaining his reasoning for signing this order. All six vaccine mega-sites have reopened Wednesday.
“The numbers are going in the right direction,” Murphy said in the briefing. “While some of our numbers are still high, we believe that we can make this expansion without leading to further stress on our health care system.”
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.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) February 3, 2021
What This Means For NJ Bars and Restaurants
Just days before Super Bowl LV, this order allows bars and restaurants to remain open past the now-nulled 10 p.m. curfew. Still, indoor seating at bars is prohibited as “it creates the danger of close and prolonged proximity between patrons, bartenders, and servers,” said Murphy.
This is the first time New Jersey has seen restrictions roll back, unlike other states who have expanded capacity levels long before Murphy has. The 25 percent capacity on indoor gathering was first administered Aug. 3.
However, as this is a state order, municipalities and counties are still able to issue their own local curfews, which may require businesses to close as early as 8 p.m.
Updates on Additional Indoor Gatherings
The indoor gathering order will also allow religious, wedding, political, funeral and memorial ceremonies or services to raise at 35 percent capacity, but no more than 150 individuals. The same applies to performance venues and respective audiences.
Murphy then called all residents to heed the responsible risk taken when removing masks in these areas. “Even with this expansion, all public health protocols must be adhered to at all times,” he emphasized, “including the requirement for wearing a mask indoors except when eating or drinking and for stringent sanitation and hygiene.”
How do you feel about the 10 percent capacity increase for New Jersey indoor dining and more? Let us know in the comments below.
Main image by Andrew Seaman