Gov. Phil Murphy said he will increase outdoor gathering limits to 200 people, effective Friday. Outdoor religious services, political activities, weddings services, funeral services and memorials, will continue to have no outdoor capacity restrictions.
Meanwhile, the general indoor gathering limit will remain at 25 people. “The reason we are increasing the outdoor limit is that as the weather gets warmer, we are urging everyone to engage in outside social activities whenever possible. We know this virus is more transmissible indoors than outdoors. So any type of larger gathering is safer for everyone if it could be held outside,” Murphy said.
Additionally, the governor announced he is lowering the large venue capacity threshold from 5,000 seats and up to 2,500 seats and up. The capacity for venues that offer indoor seating will be increased from 10% to 20%. Meanwhile, the seating capacity for outdoor venues will increase from 15% to 30%. These changes will also take effect on Friday.
Murphy said the executive order also “clarifies that banquet halls and similar venues can host indoor celebrations and other events at 35% of a room’s capacity, or up to 150 persons. This aligns all catered events with the same capacity limits as indoor wedding receptions. So, we are removing the distinction of a wedding, specifically … it can be any indoor catered event, such as a bar mitzvah or confirmation, or whatever it might be,” Murphy said.
When asked if it was wise to make these changes while there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases, the governor stressed that no changes were being made to indoor home gathering capacities. They still remain at 25 people.
“Indoor dining, gyms and indoor entertainment are still at 50% capacity, and I suspect they will still stay there,” Murphy said. “We are raising it on large venues because they … are doing an exceptional job. Going to 20% does not come anywhere close to having people needing to be 6 feet from each other.”
On the vaccine front, the state has administered more than 4 million doses. As announced previously, new groups today become eligible to receive a vaccine. They include: restaurant, food processing and distribution workers; grocery personnel; warehouse workers; remaining eldercare workers; hospitality workers; elections workers; clergy; postal and other shipping workers; and judicial system employees.
Murphy announced last week that all New Jersey residents aged 16 or older will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, following President Biden’s directive for all states to do so by that date. However, New York Governor Mario Cuomo will beat the directive by a month as he announced today that New Yorkers 30 years of age and older can begin scheduling vaccine appointments beginning March 30. New Yorkers 16 years of age and older can beginning scheduling appointments beginning April 6.
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