NEW JERSEY: Gov. Phil Murphy is rolling back some restrictions on indoor gatherings that he set in place in November, according to sources close to the administration.
Murphy was set to announce on Wednesday that limits on indoor gatherings will be increased to 35 percent, up from the current 25 percent, effective 6 a.m. on Friday. The number of people permitted indoors will be limited to 150, according to sources.
Murphy will make the announcement during his 11 a.m. news conference on Wednesday. Patch will cover it live.
Of note, Murphy is expected to announce that restaurants will also be permitted to stay open past 10 p.m. The announcement comes as restaurants and bars prepare for Super Bowl Sunday, this weekend.
Towns will be allowed to place their own restrictions, too, but customers will still not be able to sit at the bar, according to sources.
The changes would also apply to gyms, casinos, amusement and indoor recreation and other indoor businesses, according to sources. Religious ceremonies such as weddings and memorial services or funerals would also be allowed to expand attendance.
This is a developing story. Patch will have more information as it comes in.
Indoor gathering limits had been capped since November as a Thanksgiving holiday precautionary measure.
“The governor has said that there’s no evidence that indoor dining has led to coronavirus transmission, yet he’s sticking by arbitrary operating restrictions that have done nothing but hurt our community bars and restaurants and the many thousands of people they employ,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth.
“While I think the 10 p.m. curfew needs to be eliminated going forward and the 25 percent indoor capacity raised significantly, the least Governor Murphy can do is let people enjoy the entirety of the Super Bowl at their favorite establishment without forcing them to go home before the end of the game.”
On schools, Murphy has essentially followed the words of Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has said that communities and states should close bars before schools.
Murphy has suggested that schools will be the last thing he’ll close, saying that in-person education is so valuable that the state will work hard to make sure there are protections in place.
Murphy said that a small number of cases have been reported at schools, although there was a sharp jump after Thanksgiving. Then, New Jersey had its biggest jump in school coronavirus outbreaks and cases as a new report said the COVID-19 risk keeps rising for teachers and students.