New Jersey ending limit on outdoor gatherings, cap on indoor dining
New Jersey will lift all COVID-19 outdoor gathering limits and remove a 50% capacity limit on indoor restaurants and bars beginning on May 19.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the changes Monday. Murphy says New Jersey's positive coronavirus trends have enabled the state to make the changes. He added that the changes were not due to pressure from the governors of Connecticut and New York, who have also eased restrictions.
"Why all of a sudden would we start buckling under pressure given all the crap that’s been coming at us over the past 14 months? That’s now how we operate,” Murphy said.
While the 50% cap on indoor dining and the ban on bar seating has been lifted, groups must still maintain 6 feet of social distancing. The ban on parties larger than eight people has also been lifted.
Limits on indoor gatherings have been increased from 25 people to 50. The percentage capacity has been removed for catered events, funerals, performances, and political activities.
Indoor venues with 1,000 or more fixed seats can operate at 30 percent with a maximum 250-person limit.
Murphy said that that the changes mean summer events like fireworks and parades can go forward.
But not everyone was happy with the changes the governor announced. Eli Batinjane owns The Barn Original in Wyckoff. He says that the changes still won’t allow him to operate at max capacity.
“Even with dividers, there is no way we can have more people in here. So whatever he said today, it did not change anything for the restaurants,” he says.
Batinjane says that he could only fit six to eight people at his bar with social distancing. He says it would normally fit up to 20. He says that the social distancing limits should also be removed.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.
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