TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey will lift all COVID-19 outdoor gathering limits and remove a 50% capacity limit on indoor restaurants and bars, as long as 6-foot distancing can be maintained, beginning on May 19.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced the changes Monday.
Murphy says the state’s positive coronavirus trends have enabled the state to make the change. The first-term Democrat says that the changes mean summer events like fireworks and parades can go forward.
He added that social distancing must still be maintained.
Some of New Jersey's COVID-19 restrictions are being eased even sooner. Starting this Friday, people in New Jersey can walk up to the bar and order a drink, and serve themselves at a buffet again.
Murphy says he's seen enough evidence to support the move.
"We feel confident in moving up this timetable of three days, given the accelerated progress we are seeing in our vaccination program and hospital metrics in lower daily case counts," Murphy said.
Murphy originally set the date for May 10. Now, May 7 will be the day people can sit at a bar again, with restaurants responsible for making sure people don't congregate and maintaining social distance.
Restrictions on buffet-style service will be lifted, but masking will be required when you're not eating or drinking at your table.
The executive order also means an increase in capacity at outdoor events to 500 people and 50% capacity, with a max of 250 people for indoor events like weddings and proms.
Also, Murphy says the vaccination effort will kick into overdrive.