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NJ increases capacity limits on outdoor gatherings, large venues

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed an executive order today to increase outdoor gathering limits and seating capacity for large venues both indoors and outdoors. – Photo by Gov. Phil Murphy / Flickr

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed an executive order to expand the general outdoor gathering limit to 200 people and expand additional indoor and outdoor capacities of events, he said at a press conference today.

The order will go into effect at 6:00 a.m. on Friday and will exclude events including religious services, political activities, weddings, funerals and memorial services, which will continue to be uncapped outdoors. The general indoor gathering limit will remain at 25 people, he said.

“The reason we are increasing the outdoor limit is that as the weather gets warmer, we are urging everyone to engage in social activities outside whenever possible,” Murphy said. “We know this virus is many times more transmissible indoors … than it is outdoors. So any type of larger gathering is safer for everyone if it can be held outside.”

The executive order also redefines what is considered a "large venue" to expand the number of venues in this category. As of today, any venue with a capacity of 2,500 or more people falls under this category, compared to the previous capacity of 5,000 or more people, he said.

At large indoor venues, seating capacity will be increased from 10 percent to 20 percent, and at large outdoor venues, seating capacity will be increased from 15 percent to 30 percent.

Additionally, Murphy said the order will clarify that banquet halls and other similar venues will be able to host indoor events at 35 percent of the room’s capacity or up to 150 people. He said this will remove the distinction that was previously made between weddings and other types of catered events.

He also announced that he will be extending the enrollment period for the GetCoveredNJ healthcare exchange, which was supposed to run until May of this year, until the end of 2021.

“This extension is critical because the recently signed American Rescue Plan has instituted changes to the Affordable Care Act to significantly increase affordability of health insurance purchased through exchanges,” Murphy said. “Under the American Rescue Plan more people than ever will qualify for financial help in purchasing a plan through GetCoveredNJ.”

If individuals did not previously qualify for financial aid because their income was too high, they may now be eligible, he said, and those who are already receiving aid may qualify for increased premium reductions. There will also be financial aid specifically available to those who are unemployed or who have received unemployment in 2021.

“We expect this new financial help to be available to consumers in the coming weeks,” Murphy said.

In addition, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination eligibility has officially expanded today to individuals including restaurant, food processing and distribution industry workers, grocery personal and hospitality employees, among other various categories, he said.

The state has now administered over 4 million vaccine doses, with approximately 1,473,409 individuals being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Murphy said.

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