TRENTON, N.J. - More people in New Jersey will soon be able to attend proms and graduations when the expansions on both indoor and outdoor gatherings Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday go into effect early next month.
Murphy had teased the expansion as a 'major' announcement ahead of Monday's COVID-19 response briefing, pointing out that key metrics had improved and vaccination progress has continued.
During the briefing, Murphy announced that effective May 10, the state will increase indoor gathering capacities to 50% with a maximum of 250 people for events, including:
- Private catered events like weddings and school proms
- Political events
Monday's announcement also included the permitted return of dance floors at those private catered events with masking and social distancing in place.
The May 10 indoor gathering expansion will be an increase from the current limits, which stand at 35% or 150 people.
Also increasing on May 10 are general outdoor gathering limits, which will be bumped up to 500 persons. Outdoor capacity for large venues with 1,000 or more seats will increase to 50% capacity so long as they can maintain six feet of social distancing.
Outdoor carnivals and fairs are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, aligned with other amusement businesses.
The Department of Health and Office of the Secretary of Education will publish further guidelines for proms and such events at schools at a later time, Murphy stated Monday.
Murphy continued to urge New Jersey residents to get vaccinated on Monday, as he noted that more than 2.8 million people in that state have already been fully vaccinated.
"Keep getting vaccinated that’s an incredibly important step we need to pursue," Murphy urged Monday.
He cited that figure as a big reason the state would be expanding the capacities for indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Despite his pleas, demand appears to have dwindled at vaccination sites across the state.
The mega-site at Rowan College, which has gotten shots into as many as 7,000 arms per day, is now no longer requiring appointments and accepting walk-ins appointments.
"We put out all walk-ins are welcome up to 1 to 2,000 a day. We went to the local university and college, 500 businesses, and put out a message you don't need an appointment," explained County Administrator Chad Bruner.
On Monday, New Jersey reported 2,611 new positive COVID-19 cases and 19 new confirmed deaths.
All New Jersey adults ages 16 and up are currently eligible to make appointments to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
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