Murphy increases capacity for outdoor events, weddings and proms — but not indoor dining

Those hoping that Gov. Phil Murphy was going to greatly reopen the state Monday, matching regulations set forth by other governors, were perhaps a bit disappointed.

Murphy, who touted a big announcement, opened the state … but just a bit.

Here’s a look at what he said will — and will not — go into effect May 10:

Capacity at indoor catered events to increase to 50%

Murphy said the capacity at indoor catered events, including wedding receptions and proms, will increase to 50%, up to a maximum of 250 individuals.

“This is an increase from the current 35%, 150-person limitations,” Murphy said. “Additionally, dance floors will be allowed to open at such events. However, a reminder that the requirement for wearing a facemask and keeping a social distance from other groups on a dance floor will be maintained and strictly enforced.”

Still no dancing at bars, clubs

Murphy, however, maintained the ban against dancing at bars and clubs.

“This allowance for dance floors is only applicable to these closed and closely supervised events,” he said. “Dance floors at bars and other businesses such as nightclubs must remain closed at this time, as we know they are less controlled and more hospitable for this virus.

No change on capacity for indoor dining

Murphy said outdoor dining is not subject to a numerical capacity limitation, unlike indoor dining, which remains at 50% capacity at the moment. The only limitation for outdoor dining in physical space is the number of groups you can place outdoors that can be spaced 6 feet apart.

“I certainly look forward to our ability to increase indoor dining capacities in the near future, but, until that time, we want to make sure that our dining establishments know they can go forward to maximize their outdoor footprints,” he said.

The general outdoor gathering limit will increase to 500 from its current 200

Murphy hinted this could increase substantially.

“Should our public health metrics continue to trend as they have been, we would hope to increase this yet again before Memorial Day — perhaps substantially,” he said. “So, everyone should look at this 500-person limit as a new floor.”

Increased capacity for large outdoor venues (those with 1,000 or more fixed seats)

Murphy said they can host crowds at 50% capacity so long as they can maintain 6 feet of social distance between seated groups.

“While this may preclude some stadiums, like our minor league baseball stadiums, for example, from being able to reach a full 50%, we know that this is a welcome step and an advance from the current 30% capacity limitation and for venues with less seating that were previously excluded from this category,” he said.

Graduations are limited … for now

Murphy said graduations will remain restricted to the 500-person limit for now, but there’s hope.

“We are hopeful that schools and colleges and universities will be able to lean on either the outdoor gathering limit or the large venue capacities,” he said. “Both the Department of Education and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education are prepared to issue their specific prom and graduation guidance later today.”

Carnivals and fairs can open at 50% capacity

Outdoor amusement businesses already can currently operate at 50% capacity. Carnivals and fairs will now be permitted to operate at that amusement capacity starting May 10.

“This means that county and other fairs — including the New Jersey State Fair — can enjoy the same 50% capacity limit that an establishment like Six Flags Great Adventure does,” Murphy said.

No change on 6-foot rule outdoors, yet

Murphy said the state is aware that the CDC is currently reviewing its outdoor guidelines.

“We will be prepared to relax the 6-foot distancing requirement outdoors accordingly, should the CDC move in that direction,” he said.

A pitch for more vaccinations

“The only reason we are able to announce all these steps today is because of the tremendous work that millions of you are doing to help us crush the curves and end this pandemic,” he said. “Keep getting vaccinated, and, if you know someone who may be nervous, reach out to them and help them understand that our vaccines are safe and effective. Keep masking up. Keeping being smart and using common sense.

“The more you keep doing all of these above, the sooner we can look to further reopenings — and I am optimistic that time will come very soon.”