TRENTON, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday announced New Jersey is moving up some reopenings before working in coordination with New York and Connecticut to fully reopen the state on May 19.
As announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo at an earlier press conference, the three states have agreed that starting May 19, most capacity restrictions will end across the Tri-State area, including retail stores, food services, gyms, hair salons, offices, museums, amusement and family entertainment.
However, before that day, Murphy says New Jersey will be moving up some of its planned reopenings by three days.
All capacity limits on catered events, large venues and outdoor gatherings that were slotted to change on May 10, will now take effect on May 7.
“We feel confident in moving up this timetable by three days given the accelerated progress we are seeing in our vaccination program and our hospital metrics,” Murphy said.
Additionally, on May 7, the state will lift the prohibition on indoor bar-side seating, according to Murphy. Social distancing will be required with either six feet of space or physical partitions.
The state is reminding restaurants to prevent congregations at bar-sides and reminds all customers that food and drinks must be consumed while sitting.
New Jersey will also lift the ban on buffets at restaurants on May 7, Murphy added.
The changes will remain in effect for roughly two weeks, until May 19 when the state will completely remove the limit on all outdoor gatherings.
“This means that the events that we all associate with a summer from fireworks displays to parades, to the state fair can all go forward so long as attendees are keeping six feet of distance,” Murphy said.
The governor notes that masks and social distancing will still be required at the events but, should the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revise its guidance, the state will follow suit.
On May 19, the 50% capacity indoor dining limit in the state will also be removed and all restaurants will be allowed to operate at whatever capacity allows them to continue ensure a minimum six-foot distance between groups.
The change will be effective for all indoor and outdoor settings of businesses currently governed by a percentage-based cap, the governor noted.
Murphy notes that general indoor social gathering limit will also increase to 50 individuals on May 19 and the percent-based capacity limits on catered events will be removed so that all events will only be limited to a maximum of 250 people.
Indoor venues will 1,000 or more fixed seats can also begin operating at 30%, with six feet of distance between ticketed groups, Murphy said.
“These are the most aggressive steps we have taken to reopen to date, and we feel confident that we can do this safely because our numbers have trended decisively in the right direction over the last three weeks,” the governor said.
The changes were announced on Monday as the state surpassed more than 3.25 million residents who have been fully vaccinated. The state has already set a goal to have more than 4.7 million New Jerseyans vaccinated by the end of June.