NJ State Updates

Governor Murphy Announces Expanded Indoor Capacity

Updated: February 5, 2021

Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 219, effective Friday, February 5, which:

  • Expands indoor dining capacity to 35%
  • Lifts the statewide 10:00 PM restaurant indoor service limit; local restrictions may remain in place
  • Allows indoor entertainment, recreation areas (including casinos and gyms) and personal care businesses to operate at 35% capacity

Indoor performance venues and indoor gatherings that are religious ceremonies/services, wedding ceremonies, political activities, and memorial services/funerals may operate at 35% capacity with a maximum of 150 individuals.

The prohibition on seating at indoor bar areas will remain in effect, as it creates the danger of close and prolonged proximity between patrons, bartenders, and servers.

This order takes effect Friday, February 5. Public health protocols must be adhered to at all times.

Read the full EO here: Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Raising Indoor Capacity Limits from 25 Percent to 35 Percent for Certain Businesses (PDF)

On November 12, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 195, which permits municipalities and counties to impose additional restrictions on the hours of operation of non-essential retail businesses, food and beverage establishments, and recreation and entertainment businesses after 8:00 p.m.

Governor Murphy’s Executive Order states that any county or municipal restriction that in any way conflicts with any provision of statewide rules will be invalidated. Examples of such restrictions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any additions to or deletions from the list of retail businesses deemed essential or that have been identified as essential through Administrative Orders authorized by the Governor’s Executive Orders;
  • Any limitations imposed on any business’s scope of service;
  • Any density or social distancing requirements;
  • Any orders relating to the gathering of individuals; and
  • General restrictions on the freedom of movement within that county or municipality, including but not limited to the imposition of curfews.

Nothing in the Order shall supersede the provisions of Executive Order No. 108 that currently remain in effect, which includes the ability of municipalities and counties to impose additional restrictions on online marketplaces for arranging or offering lodging and on municipal parks, or the provisions of any other order that explicitly permits municipalities and counties to impose additional restrictions.

A copy of Executive Order No. 195 can be found here.

On November 10, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 194, enacting new COVID-19 mitigation measures. 

  • Restrictions on Hours for Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Lounges, and Casinos:
    • Restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and other businesses that serve food or drinks will not be able to operate their indoor premises between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.  Outdoor dining can continue after 10:00 p.m., as can takeout and delivery services. 
    • Casinos will not be able to serve food or drinks between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., with the exception of room service delivered to guest rooms and takeout.  Other casino operations would be unaffected.
  • Restrictions on Bar Seating, Increased Flexibility for Restaurants:
    • Seating at the physical bar in the indoor areas of bars and restaurants will be prohibited during all operating hours.
    • Due to the impact this may have on restaurants with small seating areas, restaurants will be allowed to have groups at tables indoors that are closer than six feet together, if they are separated by barriers that comply with guidance from the Department of Health. 
    • Restaurants will be allowed to set up plastic domes outdoors, limited to one group each, as additional outdoor dining space.
  • Restrictions on Interstate Indoor Sports Competitions:
    • All interstate games and tournaments involving indoor sports, up to and including the high school level, will be prohibited. 
    • Collegiate and professional sports will be unaffected.
    • The measures will take effect on Thursday, November 12th, at 5:00 a.m.

For a copy of Executive Order No. 194, click here.

On September 1, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order allowing the resumption of indoor dining effective Friday, September 4.

Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 183, which establishes rules for the resumption of indoor dining on Friday, September 4 at 6:00 a.m., provided businesses comply with the health and safety standards issued by the Department of Health. The Governor’s Executive Order also contains requirements for movie theaters and other indoor entertainment businesses, where the number of patrons for a performance will be limited to 25 percent capacity, up to a maximum of 150 people.  The Governor’s Order also increases the limits for indoor gatherings that are religious services or celebrations, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals, or memorial services to 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 150 people, an increase from the current limit of 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 100 people. Other indoor gatherings, including house parties, remain at the limit of 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 25 people.

Under the Department of Health’s Health and Safety Standards, food or beverage establishments offering in-person service must adhere to the following protocols, among others:

  • Limit the number of patrons in indoor areas to 25 percent of the food or beverage establishment’s indoor capacity, excluding the food or beverage establishment’s employees;
  • Limit seating to a maximum of eight (8) customers per table (unless they are from a family from the same household) and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of six feet (6 ft) between parties;
  • Require customers to only consume food or beverages while seated;
  • Require patrons to wear face coverings while inside the indoor premises of the food or beverage establishment, except when eating or drinking at their table;
  • Food or beverage establishments with table service must require that customers be seated in order to place orders;
  • Food or beverage establishments with table service must require that wait staff bring food or beverages to seated customers; and
  • Keep doors and windows open where possible and utilize fans to improve ventilation.  

On August 27, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 181, which permits gyms and health clubs, as well as amusement and water parks, to reopen their indoor premises to the public on Tuesday, September 1 at 6:00 a.m., provided these facilities comply with the health and safety standards issued by the Department of Health.

Under the Department of Health’s Executive Directive, gyms and health clubs who reopen will be required to adhere to the health and safety standards listed in the "Guidance for Health Clubs/Gyms/Fitness Centers".  These standards, which will also apply to other recreational businesses that offer fitness classes and activities, include the following, among others:

  • Limit occupancy of any indoor premises to 25 percent of the stated maximum capacity;
  • Conduct a temperature screening and questionnaire of staff and clients upon entrance to the facility; 
  • Limit indoor group activities (e.g., classes) to no more than 1 individual per 200 square feet of accessible space or less, with all individuals being able to maintain 6 feet of distance from other individuals during the entire class;
  • Require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings at all times, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health, such as when in the water and in other situations where the presence of a mask would pose a risk to the individual's health, or where the individual is under two years of age;
  • Demarcate six feet of distance between equipment, or blocking off equipment (e.g. every other machine) to maintain six feet of distancing between individuals using equipment;
  • Require that reservations, cancellations and pre-payments be made via electronic or telephone reservation systems to limit physical interactions;
  • Limit occupancy in restrooms to avoid over-crowding;
  • Inform clients to arrive dressed to workout/train and bring their own hand towel, water, yoga mat, boxing gloves, and any other equipment;
  • Not permit the use of showers, with the exception of gyms with pools, which can have individually partitioned showers or communal showers with installed barriers/partitions at least six feet apart;
  • Limit locker room use to hand washing and restroom use only; and
  • Adopt infection control practices and enhanced sanitization protocols.

Activities such as swimming in an indoor pool, tanning, outdoor dining, pick-up of food or beverage, and retail sales, which are otherwise permitted but which are not governed by the guidance, remain subject to applicable standards outlined in Executive Orders, Executive Directives and guidance.

  • For a copy of Executive Order No. 181, please click here
  • For a copy of the Department of Health’s Executive Directive, please click here.
  • For a copy of the Department of Health's Guidance for Health Clubs/Gyms/Fitness Centers, please click here.

On August 3, Governor Murphy announced decreased indoor gathering capacity limits.

Governor Phil Murphy today announced the decrease of indoor gathering capacity limit in response to the increase of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey. Indoor gatherings are now limited to 25 percent of a room's capacity, but regardless of the room’s capacity, the maximum limit shall be 25 persons, down from 100 persons. For purposes of determining this limit, any private residence or residential unit shall be treated as a single room. However, today’s change will not be applicable to the following events: weddings, funerals, memorial services, religious services or celebrations, and political activities. These events may continue under the previous rules that limited these events to 25 percent of a room's capacity, but with a limit of 100 persons.

On June 9, Governor Murphy signed two executive orders 1) raising limits on outdoor and indoor gatherings and 2) opening pools effective June 22 and additional outdoor recreational businesses.

Under Executive Order No. 152, effective immediately, indoor gatherings are limited to 25 percent of the capacity of the room, but regardless of the room's capacity, such limit shall never be less than 10 or more than 50 people.  All attendees at the gathering must wear face coverings, unless for a medical reason or if the individual is under 2 years old, individuals must remain six feet apart at all times, and physical items may not be shared by multiple attendees of the same gathering unless sanitized before and after uses.

Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people, and attendees are required to be six feet apart.  Individuals should wear face coverings at all times where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and individuals who are in vehicles shall not count towards the gathering limit.  

Nothing in the Order shall prevent a person at a gathering from momentarily removing their mask to place or receive an item in their mouth, if done for religious purposes, or for health and safety.  

Additionally, available parking at State Parks and Forests, and at county and municipal parks, may reopen to their full maximum capacity.

Under Executive Order No. 153, outdoor swimming pools can open effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, June 22, provided that it complies with standards and policies that will be issued by the Department of Health.  Pool facilities may open for the purpose of lifeguard training and lifeguard swimming lessons prior to June 22.

Additionally, outdoor recreational and entertainment businesses are permitted to reopen immediately, with the exception of amusement parks, water parks, and arcades.  These recreational and entertainment businesses are required to abide by a number of social distancing protocols that are specified in the Order.  Any type of event at an outdoor recreational or entertainment business that involves individuals there at a specific time for a common reason, such as a movie or concert, are subject to the restrictions on outdoor gatherings.  

Public and private social clubs are permitted to reopen their outdoor spaces, provided they comply with all applicable terms of the Order.  And nothing in the Order prevents a business from operating an amusement game outdoors, such as a game on a boardwalk, so long as the game does not take place in an amusement park and an employee is present and adheres to all of the requirements in Paragraph 1 of this Order, including sanitizing all equipment before and after each use.

On June 1, Governor Murphy announced New Jersey to Enter Stage Two of Restart and Recovery on June 15.

Phased-in businesses and activities, with adherence to safeguarding and modification guidelines, include:

  • Outdoor dining (beginning on June 15th)
  • Limited in-person retail (beginning on June 15th)
  • Hair salons and barber shops (beginning on June 22nd)
  • Youth summer programs (beginning on July 6th)
  • In-person clinical research/labs
  • Limited fitness/gyms
  • Limited in-person government services (e.g. – Motor Vehicle Commission)
  • Museums/libraries

All workers who can work from home should continue to work from home.

On May 18, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 147, allowing certain outdoor activities at recreational businesses and community gardens to open with required social distancing measures in place.

  • Outdoor Recreational Businesses: To limit physical interactions, the Order requires outdoor recreational businesses that reopen to limit capacity to 10 people at one time and implement reasonable restrictions that include:
    • Using electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems;
    • Prohibiting impermissible gatherings;
    • Installing physical barriers between employees and customers;
    • Limiting the use of equipment to one person;
    • Implementing social distancing measures in commonly used areas, including demarcation and signage;
    • Infection control and hygiene practices;
    • Providing sanitization materials to employees;
    • Frequent sanitization of high-touch areas; and
    • Limiting occupancy of restrooms.
  • Community Gardens: Governor Murphy’s Executive Order permits community gardens to reopen so long as they comply with the same restrictions implemented at parks under Executive Order No. 133.
  • Golf Courses: The Order relaxes four of the restrictions on golf courses, allowing them to expand tee-times to four players, allow the use of forecaddies, offer club and equipment rentals, and reopen restrooms with disinfecting and hygiene protocols in place.

A copy of Executive Order No. 147 can be found here

On May 12, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order permitting resumption of non-essential construction, curbside pickup at non-essential retail businesses and gatherings in cars.

  • Non-Essential Construction: The Order permits non-essential construction projects to resume effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18. All construction projects must abide by the social distancing, safety, and sanitization requirements that are described in detail in the Governor’s Executive Order.
  • Curbside Pickup at Non-Essential Retail Businesses: The Order also permits non-essential retail businesses to allow curbside pickup of goods, beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, but businesses must continue to have their in-store operations closed to customers.  Businesses who choose to offer curbside pickup must abide by the requirements in the Order, which include but are not limited to the following:
    • In-store operations should be limited to those employees who are responsible for the operations required for curbside pickup;
    • Customer transactions should be handled in advance by phone, email, facsimile or other means that avoid person-to-person contact;
    • Customers shall notify the retailer by text message, email, or phone once they arrive, or make best efforts to schedule their arrival time in advance.  The customer should be asked to remain in their vehicle, if arriving by car, until store staff delivers the purchase;
    • Designated employees should bring goods outside of the retail establishment and place goods directly in a customer’s vehicle when possible, avoiding person-to-person contact; and
    • Such businesses must follow social distancing and mitigation practices outlined in previous orders, including requiring workers to wear cloth face coverings when in contact with other workers or customers and gloves when in contact with goods or customers. 
  • Car Gatherings:  The Order states that car gatherings do not violate the Governor’s ban on gatherings under Executive Order No. 107.  Examples of such car gatherings include but are not limited to drive-in movies, religious services, or drive-through farms or safaris.  Car gatherings will be subject to the restrictions in the Order, which include but are not limited to the following:
    • Attendees must remain in their same car throughout the gathering, unless 1) an occupant needs to get out of the vehicle for their health or safety or 2) an occupant needs to use the restroom;
    • The vehicle must remain closed at all times unless 1) there is six feet of distance between other vehicles or individuals or 2) an officer, public official or guard requires the vehicle to open. There is a further exception allowing the opening of the vehicle if necessary for health or safety;
    • Individuals organizing the gathering who are not in vehicles must follow social distancing and wear cloth face coverings; and
    • To the degree that a gathering requires pre-payment, or seeks donations of any kind, contactless options for pre-payment or donation, such as online or by telephone, must be offered wherever feasible.

A copy of Executive Order No. 142  can be found here.

On March 30, Governor Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan announced an Administrative Order amending which businesses are permitted to operate and clarifying ways in which some businesses may operate in accordance with Executive Order No. 107.

The Administrative Order states the following:

  • Individual appointments to view real estate with realtors by individuals or families shall be considered essential retail business. Open houses are still considered impermissible gatherings.
  • Car dealers may continue to conduct online sales or remote sales that are consistent with current law. In the event of such a sale, the car may be delivered to the purchaser or the purchaser can pick up the car curbside or in the dealership service lane.
  • In accordance with the guidance released by the federal Department of Homeland Security, effective Tuesday, March 31, at 8:00 a.m., firearms retailers are permitted to operate – by appointment only and during limited hours – to conduct business which, under law, must be done in person. The NICS background check system will be up and running to process firearms purchases.
  • Golf courses are considered recreational and entertainment businesses that must close to the public and to members associated with private golf clubs.

The Order takes effect immediately. A copy of the Administrative Order can be found here.

On March 24, Governor Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan today announced an Administrative Order permitting additional retail businesses to operate during their normal business hours. 

Effective immediately, the following businesses are considered essential in accordance with Executive Order No. 107:

  • Mobile phone retail and repair shops;
  • Bicycle shops, but only to provide service and repair;
  • Livestock feed stores;
  • Nurseries and garden centers;
  • Farming equipment stores.

Businesses that remain operational must comply with social distancing. A copy of the Administrative Order can be found here.

On Thursday, March 19, Governor Murphy ordered all nail salons, barber shops, hair salons, tattoo parlors, and similar businesses in New Jersey to close beginning at 8:00 p.m. and remain closed until otherwise noted.

He also ordered all non-emergency medical care facilities to close as well.

On Tuesday, March 17, Governor Murphy ordered all indoor malls and amusement centers in New Jersey to close, beginning at 8:00 p.m. and remain closed until otherwise noted.

Restaurants in these indoor malls which have their own separate entrances may remain open under the mandated restaurant regulations (e.g., no dine-in customers, curbside delivery and pick up only).

On Monday, March 16, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 104, which directly impacts our business community here in Millburn.

This directive includes:

  • All casinos, concert venues, nightclubs, racetracks, gyms, fitness centers and classes, movie theaters, and performing arts centers will be closed to the public beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. and remain closed as long as this Order remains in effect;
  • All other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must cease daily operations from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.; and
  • All restaurant establishments, with or without a liquor or limited brewery license, are limited to offering delivery and/or take out-services only during daytime hours. 

Please visit https://nj.gov/governor for further information on the Governor’s directives.