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NEW JERSEY — New Jersey will increase its indoor capacity for restaurants and other businesses to 50% and raised gathering limits as the state continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

Effective March 19, restaurants, indoor recreational and amusement, gyms and fitness clubs, barber shops, salons and other personal care can operate with an indoor capacity at 50% , Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday. The state’s ban on seating at bars remains in effect, Murphy added.

Indoor gatherings that are not religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, performances, funerals or performances will be capped at 25 people while outdoor gatherings that are not religious ceremonies or services, weddings and political events will be capped at 50 individuals. 

“We feel confident in these steps given the data we’ve been seeing in the last five weeks,” Gov. Murphy said.

Indoor dining in the state had been operating at 35% capacity since early February. 

Restaurants in New Jersey were first allowed to welcome patrons back inside at a limited capacity in early September, after months of business owners calling on Murphy to bring back indoor dining.

The announcements come as neighboring states, including New York, have eased restrictions for indoor dining. 

Gov. Cuomo announced Sunday the state would allow 75% capacity at restaurants that have been operating at 50% capacity. 

New York City restaurants, however, will remain at 35% capacity.