NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Wednesday signed Executive Order No. 219, which increases indoor capacity limits from 25 percent to 35 percent for several businesses, including food and beverage establishments and entertainment and recreational businesses, effective Friday, February 5 at 8:00 a.m.
The Executive Order also lifts the 10:00 p.m. curfew for in-person indoor restaurant service, however local officials may continue to regulate the hours of operation of indoor restaurant service and indoor operations of other non-essential businesses after 8:00 p.m., as they have been able to since November 12, Murphy said.
The prohibition on seating at indoor bar areas remains in effect, Murphy said.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, my Administration has used science, data, and facts to guide our decision-making process,” Murphy said. “The downward trend of COVID-19 cases in our hospitals, coupled with the state’s decreasing rate of transmission, allows us to confidently expand our indoor capacity limits without leading to undue further stress on our health care systems. I am incredibly grateful to the millions of New Jerseyans who have been vigilant in practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings, and I urge everyone to continue their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The Executive Order increases the following indoor capacity limits from 25 percent to 35 percent:
- Food or beverage establishments, including restaurants, cafeterias, private non-profit clubs, and food courts, with or without a liquor license, and bars;
- Entertainment and recreational businesses, including casinos and gyms; and
- Personal care services, including barber shops and nail salons.
The Order will also rescind the previous statewide requirement that food and beverage establishments close their indoor areas to in-person service between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. each day. Casinos and any other retail, recreational, or entertainment business open to the public may also resume indoor food and beverage service during those hours.
Municipalities and counties will still be permitted to impose hours of operation restrictions on non-essential businesses between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. each day. This includes restrictions on dining in restaurants, although they cannot restrict takeout or delivery services. Municipalities and counties have been able to impose these hours restrictions since November 12 of last year, when Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 195.
“I’m glad Governor Murphy listened to us and made some reasonable adjustments to the indoor dining restrictions to help our struggling bars and restaurants in advance of the Super Bowl,” Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) said. “We hope this is the first step in a continual loosening of restrictions that will help thousands of sidelined employees in the hospitality industry get back to work.”
“I want to thank the Governor for listening to our common sense arguments that keeping the existing indoor dining restrictions and early 10 p.m. curfew would have driven more people to house parties where they could watch the full game,” Senator Anthony Bucco (R-25) said. “The old restrictions no longer make sense when you consider the protocols that have been established and the resulting data. This success gives us added motivation to continue fighting for all of the businesses that are still struggling under outdated COVID-19 rules.”
Religious ceremonies or services, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals, and memorial services that are currently limited to 25 percent of the room’s capacity up to 150 people will now be limited to 35 percent of the room’s capacity up to 150 people. Performances at entertainment centers, including movie theaters and performing arts centers, and concert venues, will similarly be capped at 35 percent up to a maximum of 150 people. Indoor meetings of addiction groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, will also be limited to 35 percent up to 150 individuals.