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NJ loosens multiple coronavirus restrictions this week, with more changes expected in near future

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) lifted the outdoor gathering limit for New Jersey and the mask mandate for outdoor public spaces but kept indoor masking a requirement this past week. – Photo by Wikimedia.org

This week, New Jersey has removed a number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, with the indoor masking requirement remaining in place for now.

As of Wednesday, the outdoor gathering limit has been removed, and percentage-based capacity limits have been removed for indoor and outdoor businesses — including restaurants, stores, gyms, personal care services, community pools and amusement parks — as well as houses of worship. Restaurants must maintain six feet of distance between tables or use partitions.

The limit for indoor gatherings at home has been raised from 25 individuals to 50, and gatherings such as conferences, expositions and job trainings may now have up to 250 attendees, according to the release. Venues with at least 1,000 fixed seats may now run at 30 percent capacity. The ban on indoor interstate youth sports has also been removed.

Six feet of social distancing is still required for all indoor and outdoor gatherings, according to the release. As of Monday, there is no longer a mask mandate for the state’s outdoor public spaces, though indoor masking remains a requirement, despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that fully vaccinated individuals may forego masks in most indoor spaces.

“Outdoor environments pose a lesser risk of transmission of the virus than indoor settings, and lifting the indoor mask mandate at this time could lead to a rise in transmission among those not yet fully vaccinated, including children who are either not yet eligible or who have just recently become eligible,” said Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), according to the release. “As we approach our vaccination target in the coming weeks, we expect to be able to safely lift the indoor mask requirement soon.”

Murphy is expected to announce next Monday that New Jersey will lift said requirement for fully vaccinated people. The updated rules will take effect on next Friday, according to an article from NJ Advance Media.

As of today, 4,017,572 New Jerseyans are fully vaccinated, according to the New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub. This makes approximately 85 percent of Murphy’s goal to reach 4.7 million fully vaccinated individuals in the state by June 30.

Following a continual downward trend in COVID-19 numbers, the state reported today an additional 698 positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and 130 new positive antigen tests. There were 743 hospitalizations as of yesterday, with 168 patients in critical or intensive care and 110 on ventilators, according to the New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard.

The state also confirmed 17 new deaths from COVID-19 today, bringing the total to 23,411 deaths in New Jersey. Another 2,660 deaths were potentially linked to COVID-19.

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