Prom is on: NJ eases COVID restrictions for indoor, outdoor gatherings


TRENTON, N.J. — High school seniors in New Jersey can start planning their “promposals” as the state will ease gathering restrictions for indoor catered events next month.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced major COVID-19 reopening updates Monday afternoon amid continued vaccination efforts as well as a downward trend in public health metrics.

Beginning May 10, the capacity limit for indoor catered events will increase to 50% or a maximum of 250 individuals. This includes weddings, proms, political events, funerals, memorial services, and indoor performances.

Dance floors will be allowed to open at such events. However, social distancing and mandatory mask requirements remain in effect.

The dance floor allowance does not apply to bars or other businesses such as nightclubs, Murphy said.

Outdoor gathering limits will also increase on May 10, from the current 200-person limit to 500 individuals. 

Murphy teased that another, larger gathering limit could be announced before Memorial Day as long as public health metrics continue to trend downward.

The governor added that the state is hoping schools will choose outdoor gatherings or large stadiums, which have bigger capacity limits, but added that the state Department of Education will release formal guidance on graduations and proms later Monday.

Outdoor carnivals and fairs, meanwhile, can begin operating at 50% capacity — the same capacity limit as other outdoor amusement parks — beginning May 10. 

“This means that county and other fairs – including the New Jersey State Fair – can enjoy the same 50% capacity limit that an establishment like Six Flags Great Adventure does,” Murphy said.

Also starting May 10, large outdoor venues with 1,000 or more fixed seats can host crowds at 50% capacity as long as 6 feet of distance can be maintained between seated groups.

“So, while this may preclude some stadiums, like our minor league baseball stadiums, for example, from being able to reach a full 50%, we know that this is a welcome step and an advance from the current 30% capacity limitation and for venues with less seating that were previously excluded from this category,” Murphy said. 

The governor said the state is also prepared to follow CDC guidance if the agency relaxes its rule on 6 feet of social distancing at outdoor venues.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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