N.J. to increase outdoor gathering limit to 500 people. Outdoor sports, entertainment venues boosted to 50% capacity.

Posted Apr. 26. 2021

The size limit on outdoor gatherings in New Jersey will increase from 200 to 500 people in two weeks, while the capacity limits for large outdoor sports and entertainment venues in the state will rise to 50%, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday as he revealed a series new steps to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Murphy also hinted these changes — to take effect May 10 — could be the first in a number of reopening announcements he’ll make in the coming weeks if the state’s COVID-19 numbers continue to improve and as more residents get vaccinated.

The bump in the outdoor gathering limit will allow for larger graduation ceremonies for colleges and high schools.

Murphy also announced indoor catered events in the state — such as weddings and proms — will be able operate at 50% capacity, with a maximum of 250 people, on May 10.https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2021/04/njs-to-increase-outdoor-gathering-limit-to-500-people-outdoor-sports-entertainment-venues-boosted-to-50-capacity.htmlhttps://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2021/04/njs-to-increase-outdoor-gathering-limit-to-500-people-outdoor-sports-entertainment-venues-boosted-to-50-capacity.html

Large outdoor venues in the state — now defined as those with 1,000 or more fixed seats — can have crowds at 50% starting the same date, as long as they can keep six feet of distance between seated groups, Murphy said at his latest COVID-19 briefing in Trenton.

That would allow for larger audiences at outdoor events like concerts, Giants and Jets games, college football games, and high school sporting events.

Currently, outdoor venues with at least 2,500 fixed seats are limited to 30% capacity.

“So while this (change) may preclude some stadiums, like our minor league baseball stadiums, for example, from being able to reach a full 50%, we know that this is a welcome step and an advance from the current 30% capacity limitation and for venues with less seating that were previously excluded from this category,” Murphy said while making the announcement at his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

The governor added that the federal Centers for Disease Control is currently reviewing its outdoor guidelines, and New Jersey will “be prepared” to relax the six-foot requirements “should the CDC move in that direction.”

In addition, carnivals and fairs in the state can operate at 50% starting May 10 — the same capacity limit that outdoor amusement parks, such as Six Flags Great Adventure, currently have. That includes the State Fair in Augusta.

Both the state Department of Education and the Office of the state Secretary of Higher Education will issue prom and graduation guidance later Monday, Murphy said.

The governor noted the state hopes to increase the outdoor gathering limit again — “perhaps substantially” — by Memorial Day if the numbers keep improving.

“So everyone should look at this 500-person limit as a new floor,” he said.

Murphy stressed that despite these changes, New Jersey’s outdoor mask mandate will remain in place. People are required to wear face coverings outdoors when in public if they cannot practice social distancing.

Monday’s announcement does not include increased capacities for indoor stores, gyms, casinos, movie theaters, and dining at restaurants in the state, which will remain limited to 50%. Murphy noted that outdoor dining is not subject to any capacity limits, as long as they keep groups 6 feet apart.

Asked when restaurants can see indoor dining limits increase, Murphy said: “If the numbers keep going like they’ve been going, it will be sooner than later. I don’t have any news to report on that front.”

Murphy said these new steps are possible because New Jersey’s coronavirus numbers have improved notably in recent days, despite officials warning less than a month ago that a third wave of the pandemic was hitting the state. Officials have said the virus is far less easily transmitted outdoors than indoors.

“We are doing this both because we are expecting the downward trend to continue over the next two weeks, and because we want to give businesses the ability to plan ahead and fully prepare,” the governor said. “To be sure, looking at the trend in our numbers over the past weeks, we fully expect to continue our streak of announcing expansions and sticking to them.”

New Jersey on Monday announced another 1,247 confirmed coronavirus cases and an additional 19 confirmed deaths.

The state’s seven-day rolling average for new cases in the state is now 2,279 — down 26% from a week ago and 32% from a month ago. The seven-day average hasn’t been below 2,300 since early November.

Meanwhile, more than 2.8 million people have been fully vaccinated in New Jersey — about 41% of the state’s 6.9 million adults. The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of its eligible adult population — about 4.7 million people — by the end of June.

In all, more than 6.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey, with more than 4 million people receiving at least one dose.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-04-26 13:52:19 -0700