TRENTON, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 219, increasing indoor capacity limits from 25% to 35% for food and beverage establishments and entertainment and recreational businesses, effective Friday, Feb. 5, at 8 a.m. The governor also lifted the 10 p.m. curfew for in-person indoor restaurant service. The executive order impacts the following:
- Food or beverage establishments, including restaurants, cafeterias, private non-profit clubs, food courts and bars (The prohibition on seating at indoor bar areas remains in effect.);
- Entertainment and recreational businesses, including casinos and gyms; and
- Personal care services, including barber shops and nail salons.
- Religious ceremonies or services, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals and memorial services that are currently limited to 25% of the room’s capacity up to 150 people will now be limited to 35% of the room’s capacity up to 150 people.
- Performances at entertainment centers, including movie theaters and performing arts centers, and concert venues, will similarly be capped at 35% up to a maximum of 150 people.
- Indoor meetings of addiction groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, will also be limited to 35% up to 150 individuals.
However, local officials may continue to regulate the hours of operation of indoor restaurant service and indoor operations of other non-essential businesses after 8:00 p.m., as they have been able to since Nov. 12, 2020.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, my administration has used science, data, and facts to guide our decision-making process,” said Gov. Murphy. “The downward trend of COVID-19 cases in our hospitals, coupled with the state’s decreasing rate of transmission, allows us to confidently expand our indoor capacity limits without leading to undue further stress on our health care systems.”
“Yes, this helps us a little. The 35% with the spacing only adds one table for us, but it should bring additional business,” said Sean Flannery, owner of Sheelen's Crossing in Fanwood. “Being able to stay open later on Sunday will enable people to stay and watch the whole game. They won't have to leave early because of a curfew.”
The order will also rescind the previous statewide requirement that food and beverage establishments close their indoor areas to in-person service between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. each day. Casinos and any other retail, recreational or entertainment business open to the public may also resume indoor food and beverage service during those hours.
Municipalities and counties will still be permitted to impose hours of operation restrictions on non-essential businesses between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. each day. This includes restrictions on dining in restaurants, although they cannot restrict takeout or delivery services. Municipalities and counties have been able to impose these hours restrictions since November 12 of last year.
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