TRENTON, NJ — Anyone planning a wedding can expand the guest list now, following Gov. Phil Murphy's COVID-19 press briefing in Trenton on Wednesday, when he announced that wedding receptions may proceed at 35% of a venue’s indoor capacity (up to 150 persons) and up to 150 people outdoors. Indoor receptions must abide by indoor dining guidelines. Attendees must wear face covers unless seated and eating.
"As we slowly recover, we want people to be able to celebrate the good things," said Murphy, noting that the executive order will go into effect this Friday at 6 a.m.
Also, in what will surely be a welcome announcement to countless kids and their parents, he also announced that sleep away camps will be able to safely resume their operations this summer.
"We are not declaring victory right now...but we are going to get there," he said. "We’ve remained optimistic, even when we knew we were going through some very, very dark times."
The governor also expressed optimism for the future as the state of New Jersey marks one year since the pandemic began last March.
"Our recovery efforts are being aided by the arrival of three vaccines the latest coming from one of the most historic of New Jersey names, Johnson & Johnson," said Murphy. "We know you’re ready for these vaccines, and we purpose-built a vaccination infrastructure to get shots into arms."
"As of today, we’ve administered more than 2,190,179 vaccine doses—with many millions more to come once we get the supply we need," the governor said. "Each dose is another ray of light in that new dawn. Each one comes with a little extra hope for the post-COVID day that awaits."
The governor recapped the past year of the pandemic as follows:
- Almost 800,000 New Jerseyans have tested positive over the past year, but the "overwhelming amount of them have recovered;
- There were likely many more who were positive before testing was commonplace;
- Masks, hospital gowns and ventilators were in short supply in the beginning, but there is now a stockpile available to hold off the shortages;
- The crippling numbers of hospitalizations that officials expected did not come to pass, but 2,100 people remain in New Jersey's hospitals today; and
- New Jersey has endured more than 21,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, with thousands of others still considered "probable."
"Our state was one of the first epicenters of COVID-19. We crushed the curve last spring and summer, and we’re crushing it a second time," said Murphy. "We’re doing this together...
"The month of March is an inflection period. We've come down a bit, hospitalization numbers are very good. Hopefully combining social distancing with better weather and with a quantum leap in vaccines, it's going to be a better day. Keep the faith, folks. It has been one hell of a year."