Gov. Murphy boosts indoor capacity limits for proms, weddings, other events in New Jersey

MOORESTOWN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that more people can now attend indoor events in New Jersey, including proms, weddings and performances.

Effective May 10, indoor room capacities for the following will increase to 50% with a maximum of 250 individuals:

- Private Catered Events - including Weddings and School Proms
- Political Events
- Funerals
- Memorial Services
- Performances

This is an increase from the current 35% and 150 person limitation. Murphy said the two-week delay is aimed at giving schools and businesses time to plan.

While each school district is handling the prom announcement differently, students say the dance is a right of passage.

"Especially this year, we've been locked online, so prom means the chance to go out with your friends have a little bit of fun," said Joshua Brangan, an 11th grader at Gloucester City High School.

At the Cherry Hill School District, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche says they still can't have prom. Instead, an alternative event is being held for students.

"For instance, (Cherry Hill East High School) has 550 kids in their senior class, so that's a lot of kids. Going to 250 kids inside doesn't really help us that much," said Meloche.

The increase in capacity is also welcome news for families who need to hold funerals or memorial services, both of which were heavily restricted when the pandemic first hit

"Part of the natural grieving process is to acknowledge the passing. A lot of times families choose to have a viewing. When we did that at the funeral home, it had to be very private, intimate. I had maybe extended family that was gathering outside knowing they could not come in, but they were there as a form of support for the family," said John Healey, the manager and director of the McCann-Healey Funeral Home.

Dance floors at bars and other businesses such as nightclubs must remain closed.

The announcement is a welcome one for some.

"Just going out to events with a little less restrictions, it's warranted, it's time," Alex (no last name given) of Marlton said.

At Mansion on Main Street in Voorhees, owners are looking forward to booking some larger weddings and proms this spring.

"They can dance and be a part of it and their affairs will be just as they imagined so for that we're really excited," said Jon Rubin of Mansion on Main Street.

Bianca Soler, of Pennsauken, is about to receive her diploma from Rowan University in May. She hopes the announcement will mean she can invite just a few more people to the graduation ceremony.

"I'm only allowed four right now," said Soler. "I'm hoping I can bring more because a lot of people want to come."

Also effective May 10, the general outdoor gathering limit will increase to 500 individuals, Murphy said.

Outdoor capacity for large venues - those with 1,000 or more fixed seats - will increase to 50%, Murphy said. However there must be six feet of distance between seated groups.

Outdoor carnivals and fairs will also be permitted to operate at 50% capacity, aligned with other amusement businesses.

New coronavirus cases over the last two weeks in New Jersey have fallen by 25%. Hospitalizations have been below 2,000 for five days, falling below a high-point of more than 2,000 earlier this month, Murphy said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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