March 3, 2021

New Jersey is expanding indoor and outdoor capacity at wedding receptions amid continued drops in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The orders go into effect at 6 a.m. on Friday, March 5, Gov. Phil Murphy said. Outdoor receptions are limited to 150 people, while indoor receptions are capped at 35% capacity or 150 people, whichever is lower.

Masks still have to be worn, and food and drinks can only be eaten while sitting down, under the order Murphy said he will sign.

“Because we know these events take time to plan and we see things slowly moving in the right direction, we can safely take this step as we slowly recover,” the governor said March 3 at a daily COVID-19 press conference in Trenton.

These are the latest restrictions the governor has begun to roll back as the state rides the tail end of a second wave.

Still, federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control are warning against reopenings because of sluggish vaccine roll-outs and the presence of several variants across the globe.

“These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a March 1 White House press briefing. “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.”

Last month, New Jersey expanded indoor dining capacity from 25% to 35%, which was also extended to indoor businesses such as casinos, salons and gyms. And the state began to allow sports stadiums to reopen at an extremely reduced capacity.

“But for the variants, it would be even sooner and even more significant,” Murphy said of reopenings during a daily COVID-19 press conference on Feb. 24.

Original Article:
By: Daniel J. Munoz