NEW JERSEY — If you’re celebrating the Fourth of July, you are now permitted do so with up to 500 people together — as long as they are outdoors and practicing social distancing, the governor announced.

Gov. Phil Murphy has raised the limit on crowd size for outdoor gatherings to 500 people. The new limit took effect 6 a.m. Friday.

“Increasing the outdoor capacity limit has been made possible by continued progress against COVID-19,” Murphy said at his daily press briefing Thursday. “The hard work of the residents of our state is allowing us to make this move and will make it much easier to hold important events like graduation ceremonies in the coming months.”

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Limits on all indoor gatherings remain at 25% of building capacity, but with a maximum of 100 people.

On Thursday, Murphy reported an additional 27 coronavirus deaths bringing the statewide death toll to 13,251. State Health Department figures showed 1,027 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, with 216 patients in either critical or intensive care and 170 ventilators in use. The governor reported 51 new COVID-19 patients admitted and 83 live discharges.

Click here to view New Jersey's COVID-19 data dashboard, including cases and deaths by zip code with a population of 20,000 people or more.

Murphy said Thursday that in honor of the Fourth of July, “as a sign of rebirth for our state, our flags will return to full-staff.” For the past 90 days, flags have been at half-staff for New Jersey residents, who have died from COVID-19.

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For Business Owners

On Thursday, Murphy also announced that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has created the Entrepreneur Support Program to help boost emerging businesses and startups.

“By working alongside investors, we’re strengthening the system through which these businesses receive their capital,” Murphy said. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey EDA has helped assist our business community and position our economy for long-term health as we continue our restart and recovery."

He said that 96% of all people who have been deemed monetarily eligible to receive benefits have gotten their payments. In total, the state Labor Department has distributed $9.1 billion into the accounts of New Jersey families, according to the governor.

Help for Renters

Emergency rental assistance is available for New Jersey renters who have experienced a substantial loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Murphy announced. Applications will be accepted by the state Department of Community Affairs beginning Monday, July 6. Click here to learn more.

“We have to keep up with the practices that have gotten us this far in the past three months,” Murphy said. “We are a model for the nation on how to responsibly restart – let’s keep it that way.”