If you’ve been wondering what summer 2021 will look like, Governor Murphy’s new guidelines for most businesses will go into effect on May 19th and give a clear picture of more normalcy coming our way soon.

Last week, Murphy announced capacity limits that were slated to go into place on May 10. But those have been bumped up to May 7th. This is a big deal, especially for proms, because starting Friday, indoor room capacity will be increased to 50 percent with a cap of 250 people and dance floors and closed or private events can reopen. But this is just the tip of the reopening iceberg.

“We have been fully expecting to take additional steps to relax regulations as more people are vaccinated and the weather warms up,” said Murphy. “As long as all the vital metrics keep moving in the right direction as they have.” As long as the numbers continue to go down, and with the stipulation that social distancing continues to be maintained and masks are worn indoors, summer seems to be back on track.  In coordination with the governors of New York and Connecticut, effective Wednesday, May 19, here are the new rules:

There are no capacity limits for outdoor gatherings as long as all attendees can maintain a social distance.  This goes for outdoor graduations, parties, festivals, fireworks, family reunions, parades, etc. 

The 50 percent capacity limit will be lifted and restaurants will be able to operate at whatever capacity they want as long as they can ensure a six-foot distance between groups. These are the same rules that are currently in place for outdoor dining. Also, tables of more than 8 people will be allowed again, as long as they can socially distance themselves from other groups. And in some situations, if there are partitions between tables, the distance can be less than six feet. Starting on May 7, this Friday, bar-side seating will be allowed again. However, there can’t be congregating at the bar, patrons must be seated to drink and consume food. Also, this Friday, buffets and self-serve restaurants can resume, as long as patrons bring the food to their tables to eat.

The 50 percent capacity limit for all indoor businesses will be removed on May 19th. This goes for religious services, personal care businesses, gyms, indoor pools, casinos, shopping malls, stores, etc, they can all go back to 100 percent operation, so long as distancing can be maintained. Masks must still be worn.

Amusement parks, water parks, outdoor pools, golf courses, etc. can return to 100 percent capacity as long as distancing can be maintained.

Weddings, funerals, proms, performances and political activities, will be limited to a maximum of 250 people. The maximum hasn’t changed from the May 7th limit, however, they aren’t limited to 50 percent capacity, which is good news for smaller venues.

The capacity for large venues (those with more than 1,000 fixed seats) will be allowed to operate at 30 percent with six feet of distance between ticketed groups. This is for sporting events, concerts and theaters.

If you’re planning a party at home (think graduation and moving up ceremonies), the indoor gathering limit is 50 people, up from 25.

Governor Murphy also announced that the ban on Interstate Youth Sports will be lifted on May 19th as well. This means that travel sports that play across state lines will be able to resume.

Murphy says that all this progression is thanks in large part to the vaccination process. More than 3.25 million NJ residents have been fully vaccinated. New walk-in times are available at many mega sites, and NJ is continuing to offer more localized programs.

If you’re 21+, the state has teamed up with 12 local breweries for a Shot and a Beer. Anyone who gets their first dose or shot in the month of May can get a free beer at select breweries listed above–just show your vaccination card!