Looking to gather with friends — from a socially acceptable distance — this holiday weekend? Gov. Phil Murphy is allowing your group to be a little bigger.
Murphy, during his last daily COVID-19 briefing before Memorial Day weekend, said he is lifting the limit on outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 individuals. The order also allows recreational campgrounds, both public and private, to reopen, effective immediately.
The order also increases the capacity for charter and fishing boats, outdoor batting cages, driving ranges and other outdoor recreational businesses to 25.
Murphy made it clear that the order does not apply to outdoor dining — and that indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people.
“I hope to get to outdoor dining sooner rather than later, but we’re not there yet,” he said.
Murphy also made it clear that distancing must be adhered to — and said organized gatherings must include clear demarcations for attendees. He also strong recommended that everyone continue to wear face coverings.
“If you were looking forward to gathering with your neighbors for a Memorial Day cookout, you may do so, so long as social distancing and personal responsibility remain the order of the day,” he said.
“We are able to confidently make this decision today because of the hard work that each of you have put in, through social distancing, to relieve the stresses on our health care system. Because you have taken to heart all that we have asked you to do, and the faith you have put in us to make the right decisions to safeguard public health, we can take this step together.”
Hospitalizations have dropped to nearly 3,000, the number of patients in intensive care is well under 1,000 at 846, and the number of patients on ventilators is down to 674.
“Each day brings with it more signs that we are moving closer to being able to enter Phase 2 of our restart,” he said. “But, make no mistake, we will continue down this road responsibly and deliberately, because we still lead in some indicators in which we would rather not.
“However, I am proud that we are able to take this step today, and to add a little more hope and optimism to the unofficial start of summer.”