NEW: Effective May 7th, we will LIFT the prohibition on indoor bar-side seating.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 3, 2021
Proper social distancing between patrons will be required. pic.twitter.com/GIgTDL1V8k
Governor Phil Murphy moved up the latest phase of Garden State reopenings from Monday, May 10 to Friday, May 7.
Along with indoor bar seating, Murphy removed a prohibition on tables of eight people or more. Tables can be spaced closer than 6 feet if partitions are used.
Social distancing is still required between parties.
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The ban on buffets and other self-service foods ends, as well.
NEW: Effective May 7th, we will LIFT the prohibition on buffets and other self-service foods at restaurants. pic.twitter.com/kMjNlfsMWa— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 3, 2021
Other changes include increasing the outdoor gathering limits to 500 people, and raising indoor capacities to 50% up to 250 individuals for political gatherings, weddings, funerals, memorial services and performances.
Privately catered events will also be permitted to have dancing.
NEW: I’m moving up the effective date of the reopening steps we announced last Monday from May 10th to May 7th.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 3, 2021
We feel confident in moving up this timetable given the accelerated progress we’re seeing in our vaccination program, hospital metrics, and daily case counts. pic.twitter.com/i8Wf4XfYwV
Both indoor and outdoor capacity increases are good news for proms and graduations in New Jersey.
The general indoor gathering limit which applies to house parties and other social events such as a birthday party is doubled from 25 to 50 people, the governor said.
Outdoor stadiums and venues with more than 1,000 seats can also increase to 50-percent capacity.
"We feel confident in moving up this timetable by three days given the accelerated progress we are seeing in our vaccination program and hospital metrics and lower daily case counts," Murphy said Monday.
New Jersey will lift all COVID-19 outdoor gathering limits and remove a 50% capacity limit on indoor restaurants and bars beginning on May 19 as long as social distancing can be maintained, Murphy said.
BREAKING: Effective May 19th, we will REMOVE the 50% capacity indoor dining limit.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 3, 2021
Restaurants will be allowed to operate at whatever capacity allows them to continue to ensure a minimum six-foot distance between groups. pic.twitter.com/TmN2HSxAu7
On May 19, the state will also lift the limit on outdoor gatherings.
BREAKING: On May 19th, we anticipate completely removing the limit on outdoor gatherings.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 3, 2021
All attendees or groups of attendees will be required to keep social distances of at least six feet. Current mask requirements will remain in place. pic.twitter.com/NEqTS239n5
Murphy said the state's positive coronavirus trends have enabled the state to make the change.
"This means that the events that we all associate with summer, from fireworks displays to parades to the state fair, can all go forward, as long as attendees keep 6 feet of distance," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.