Gov. Phil Murphy loosened a range of COVID-related restrictions in New Jersey on Monday afternoon, announcing that graduations, proms and other indoor catered events would be permitted again with some restrictions.
Many worried that another year's worth of celebrations would be stifled by the pandemic, but Gov. Murphy announced that as of May 10 dance floors would be open at indoor catered events like weddings and proms, provided participants are wearing masks and social distancing.
Capacity limits for indoor catered events will be raised to 50 percent with a maximum of 250 people.
Graduations can expand, as well, with the limit of outdoor gatherings increased to 500 people.
"If you are outside and you can't socially distance you need to wear a mask," Murphy reiterated.
As of May 10, capacity limits at large outdoor venues will be raised from 30 percent to 50 percent on venues with a capacity of 1,000 or more, as long as there is at least 6 feet of separation between seated groups. For the time being, dance floors must remain closed at bars and other related businesses.
Outdoor carnivals and fairs are permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity. Outdoor dining is not subject to capacity limitation, except by virtue of the six-feet rule, the governor said.
COVID-19 metrics will continue to be evaluated in the coming weeks. Gov. Murphy says the goal is to raise the limit again before Memorial Day, hopefully paving the way for more familiar-feeling graduation ceremonies.
"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.
Murphy credited the ongoing rollout of the COVID vaccines as reason for the changes. The most recent rate of coronavirus transmission was measured at 0.90 with a positivity rate of 6.44 percent.
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