Bigger gatherings allowed in NJ now, indoor dining in July
New Jersey will immediately allow outdoor gatherings of up to 250 people under new executive orders from Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.
The announcement came in conjunction with several others:
- Starting July 2, indoor dining will be allowed, with restaurants at up to 25 percent of indoor capacity. Outdoor dining has been allowed for the last few weeks, and will continue as well.
- Catering halls will be allowed to open along with the restaurants, subject to the same 25 percent capacity.
- Casinos will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity July 2. Racetracks will be allowed to take bets on-site, provided they comply with social distancing and capacity limits.
- Indoor gatherings of up to 100 people or 25 percent capacity -- whichever is less- will be allowed immediately. That doubles a previous cap of 50 people, though keeps an existing 25 percent capacity limit.
Murphy, announcing the loosened restrictions Monday, stressed that there are currently no limits in place for outdoor religious and political activities. Both had been points of contention -- as some churches pushed to begin services this spring after Murphy's executive orders prohibited most sorts of gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (with two defying Murphy's orders outright), and as some organizers of protests against the shutdown itself received citations from local law enforcement.
Murphy himself attended two Black Lives Matters protests following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd while being restrained by a Minneapolis police officer. One legislator proposed a new law in response -- nullifying any executive order the governor doesn't follow himself.
"I know that if everyone keeps answering the call of personal responsibility, and answering the call of common sense for the common good," New Jersey's rates of coronavirus hospitalizations, deaths and spread will continue to come down -- allowing for further openings -- Murphy said Monday.
The announcement Monday makes good on an promise Murphy made earlier this month -- that he'd seek to expand the outdoor gathering restriction to 250 people on today's date. He's also previously said he anticipates expanding it further to 500 people on July 3, ahead of allowing graduation ceremonies beginning July 6.
Salons and personal care facilities opened, also with capacity limits, on Monday. Indoor malls will be allowed to open June 29.