New Jersey restaurants, gyms, salons can go to 50% capacity March 19

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday that restaurants, gyms, salons and other indoor recreational activities can now boost their capacity to 50%, up from 35%, starting on March 19.
Murphy announced the change at a COVID-19 news conference in Trenton. The governor says the state’s coronavirus figures have been tracking in the right direction, although hospitalizations ticked up this week.
“We believe that when all factors are weighed, we can make this expansion without leading to undue further stress on our health care system,” Murphy said.
The move was announced in conjunction with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is allowing New York City restaurants to operate at 50% capacity. New York restaurants outside of the city can operate at 75% capacity.
“We feel confident in these steps given the data we've been seeing over the past five weeks since the last time we expanded the indoor reality,” Murphy said. “For example, on Feb. 5, our hospitals were treating 2,900 patients. That number has come down by about 1,000 and has been consistent since then.”
Murphy also encouraged outdoor dining as the weather improves. He did not remove restrictions such as the mask mandate.
“Unlike some states, which are prioritizing, frankly, politics over public health – Texas and Mississippi come to mind – our mask mandate continues to be in place and will be enforced,” he said.
The governor also says that outdoor gatherings would climb to a 50-person capacity, up from 25.
Murphy also said that there have been a total of 765 COVID-19 cases among teachers and students during the school year.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.