What to Know
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says he will relax coronavirus restrictions on restaurants and bars, bumping up indoor capacity to 35% from 25%, beginning Friday.
- Murphy, a Democrat, also announced Wednesday that he was lifting a prohibition on indoor restaurant and bar service that started at 10 p.m.
- Murphy said the changes are possible because hospitalizations due to the virus have gone down by about 20% over the last three weeks.
Starting Friday, more people will be allowed to dine, gamble, workout and pray indoors in New Jersey as some coronavirus restrictions are slightly relaxed.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday announced that he is increasing the capacity limit on restaurants, gyms, salons, barbershops, some entertainment venues and casinos from 25% to 35%.
Murphy's executive orders also lift the 10 p.m. curfew on indoor dining in New Jersey, but municipalities can continue to enforce curfews. Bar service will remain prohibited.
Religious, political and some entertainment events -- including weddings, funerals and performances -- can now have crowds at 35% capacity, up to 150 people.
The new changes take effect at 8 a.m. Friday.
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Murphy praised New Jersey residents for doing their parts in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
"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 commonsense," he said.
Murphy said the changes are possible because hospitalizations due to the virus went down by about 20% over the last three weeks.
He said that cases and hospitalizations -- just under 3,000 as of Tuesday night -- aren't putting an unmanageable strain on the health care system, at this point. He said that state health officials will continue to monitor how new strains of the virus impact the numbers.
The rate of transmission announced Wednesday was at 0.95.
To date, New Jersey has reported more than 631,000 PCR test-confirmed COVID-19 cases. Nearly 20,000 people are confirmed to have died from coronavirus-related complications. Fifty-two new deaths were announced Wednesday.
A multiday winter storm forced New Jersey to alter schedules for getting people vaccinated against COVID-19. New Jersey mega sites for the vaccine were temporarily closed Monday and Tuesday due to the snow. On Wednesday, vaccines began again and those who missed vaccinations were being rescheduled.
To date, more than 837,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, which has a goal to vaccinate millions of people within six months.
A lack of doses being supplied by the federal government has slowed the vaccine rollout, Murphy has said.