Restaurants in New York City and New Jersey will be permitted to open at 50% of capacity, up from their current 35%, starting March 19, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday.
In New Jersey, the higher cap will apply to gyms, salons and other indoor recreational activities as well.
Cuomo had previously announced that restaurants in the rest of New York state, which have been open at 50% capacity, may have 75% of capacity starting March 19.
The governors said the restrictions were loosened because the number of coronavirus cases being treated in hospitals has fallen dramatically.
“In New York state, our decisions are based on science and data and we are encouraged by the continued decline in infection and hospitalization rates,” Cuomo said. “We will continue to follow the science and react accordingly. If we keep the infections down and vaccinations up, we will continue to stay ahead in the footrace against this invisible enemy and reach the light at the end of the tunnel together.”
Murphy urged New Jersey residents to, whenever possible, take advantage of the warmer weather and hold events outdoors.
“We know this virus in many more times transmissible and lethal outdoors than indoors,” Murphy said.
“I applaud every restaurant, and there are literally tens of thousands of them, that have undertaken creative efforts to facilitate outdoor dining,” he said. “I look forward to seeing outdoor dining reemerge this spring.”
“We will continue to move deliberately, responsibly, incrementally, guided by public health data,” Murphy said, criticizing other states that reopened quickly and then saw a surge of hospitalizations.
He stressed that the state’s mask mandate remains in effect.
Also effective March 19, indoor gatherings in New Jersey that are not religious gatherings, weddings, funerals, political events or memorial services will be capped at 25 individuals, up from 10.
Updated Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 2:44 pm .