On May 3, 2021, Governor Murphy announced that New Jersey, along with New York and Connecticut, would lift many COVID-19 pandemic restrictions affecting the region’s businesses, venues, and gatherings over the course of the next several weeks. Governor Murphy cited the vaccination progress and the decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state as supporting factors for easing the restrictions, underscoring that the partnership with neighboring states and steps taken by New Jersey are the results of data-driven decision-making. The information below is specific to New Jersey, with New York and Connecticut also easing restrictions on similar timelines. Additionally, Pennsylvania will be relaxing its COVID-19-related safety measures for businesses and individuals in public places (other than mask wearing) on May 31, 2021, though cities and municipalities may continue more restrictive measures.
On May 7, 2021, the following easing of restrictions will take effect in New Jersey:
- outdoor gathering limits will increase to 500 individuals;
- indoor room capacities will increase to 50 percent up to 250 individuals for political gatherings, weddings, funerals, memorial services, and performances;
- dance floors will be reopened at private catered events; and
- capacities at large outdoor stadiums and venues with more than 1,000 seats will be increased to 50 percent of capacity; and
- the prohibition on indoor bar-side seating will be lifted.
On May 19, 2021, the following additional restrictions will be eased:
- general indoor gathering limit will increase to 50 people;
- outdoor gathering limit will be removed and instead of a hard cap on attendance for outdoor events, Murphy said the state will require that all attendees at any outdoor event keep social distances of at least six feet and current mask requirements will remain in place;
- indoor and outdoor businesses (such as bars and restaurants) and houses of worship will only be restricted by the space available for patrons to maintain 6 feet social distancing (i.e., a distance-based maximum capacity will be implemented rather than the current business capacities based on percentages of maximum site capacity);
- capacity at large indoor venues, with a fixed seating capacity of 1,000 or more will increase to 30 percent; and
- barring an increase in COVID-19 cases, commercial gatherings and gatherings organized and operated by an overseeing entity (e.g. conferences, expositions, meetings of fraternal organizations, job trainings, events hosted by senior centers) will be subject to the 250-person indoor gathering limit that applies to indoor catered events, as long as all attendees can remain six feet apart.
However, as set forth by the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub, certain precautions remain in place, which include working from home where feasible, and having clinically high-risk individuals who can stay at home continue to do so. Finally, all residents and businesses are instructed to follow state and federal safeguarding guidelines which include: washing hands; wearing masks in public; respecting social distancing; minimizing gatherings; disinfecting workplaces and businesses; and avoiding mass gatherings.