Murphy to increase capacity at some businesses, venues to 35%

NJ Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that he would be signing an executive order increasing the capacity allowed at some businesses and venues from 25 % to 35 %.

Citing declining COVID hospitalization rates, the governor said restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses could increase their capacity beginning Friday at 8 a.m. Restaurants can stay open past 10 p.m.

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Under the executive order Murphy will sign Wednesday, the maximum number of people allowed inside for religious ceremonies or services, wedding ceremonies, political activities, memorial service or funerals will be capped at 150.

Despite the slight easing, there were 2,986 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state with 52 deaths reported a day earlier.

Murphy said the changes are possible because hospitalizations due to the virus has gone down by about 20% over the last three weeks.

The capacity limits have hobbled restaurants and led to calls from some Republicans to let businesses reopen. Murphy credited his administration for not raising and lowering capacity limits multiple times.

"We go up responsibly," he said.

Shortly after Murphy's announcement, the mayors of Hoboken and Jersey City, whose bars and restaurants attract customers from both sides of the Hudson River, announced they would let those businesses operate without a curfew as long as they adhere to capacity restrictions.

"Our public safety officers and city staff will be aggressively monitoring all bars and restaurants during overnight hours to ensure COVID-19 safety precautions are being taken at all times," Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop wrote. "If not followed, any bar or restaurant will be subject to immediate penalties, including but not limited to closure."

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Jersey fell from 5,850 on Jan. 19 to 4,538 new cases a day Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.



With the Associated Press