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Are movie theaters, concert venues, and other entertainment venues open? Are museums, aquariums, and other cultural venues open? What safety guidance must they follow?

Last Updated: 05/07/2021

Note: If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, percentage-based indoor and outdoor capacity limits will be lifted. Instead, businesses must limit indoor and outdoor capacity to a number that ensures all individuals or groups of people can remain six feet apart.

Entertainment businesses, cultural venues, and performance centers may reopen.

Entertainment businesses must follow the mitigation requirements detailed in paragraphs 7 of page 13 of Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No 192, and Executive Order No. 230, which are summarized below.

Movie theaters and other indoor entertainment centers, including performing arts centers and concert venues, must follow the mitigation requirements detailed in paragraph 2 on pages 5-9 of Executive Order No. 183, which is summarized below.

Any establishments that serve food or alcohol must comply with the health and safety protocols for indoor and outdoor dining, including any regulations municipalities or counties impose on the hours of operation of in-person food and beverage service after 8 p.m. In addition, indoor private catered events with licensed caterers are limited to 50 percent of a room's capacity, but no more than 250 people. Dance floors private catered events may reopen, with masking and social distancing requirements in place, meaning groups would have to stay six feet apart on the dance floor. Dance floors will remain closed at bars and other related businesses, such as night clubs.

Note: If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, indoor catered events may be held at 100 percent of a room's capacity, but no more than 250 individuals. Individuals or groups of people must remain six feet apart.

Mask Requirement

Under Executive Order No. 192, all employees, customers, and visitors must wear a face covering while on the premises (both indoors and outdoors), except when an individual is under two years of age or where it is impractical like when eating, drinking, or receiving a service that cannot be completed while wearing a mask.

Employees, customers, and visitors who refuse to wear a face covering may be declined entry, except when doing so would violate State or federal law and provided the employer complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination where applicable.

Employers may permit employees to remove their face covering when they are at their workstation at least six feet from others or alone in a walled space such as an office. Employers must provide face coverings to their employees.

For more details and exemptions, refer to page 4 of Executive Order No. 192.

What To Expect at Entertainment Businesses

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in EO 157, EO 183, EO 192, EO 230, and EO 238. However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of EO 157, EO 183, EO 192, EO 230, EO 238, and businesses should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance.

Businesses must institute the following policies for indoor and outdoor spaces:

  • Limit the number of patrons in any indoor premises to 50 percent capacity – excluding employees.
  • For indoor performances or movies, a particular showing is limited to 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 250 people, not including staff, and groups that buy tickets together can sit together, but must be at least 6 feet apart from all other groups; Note: If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, indoor performances may be held at 100 percent of a room's capacity, but no more than 250 individuals. Individuals or groups of people must remain six feet apart.
  • For indoor performances and movies, individuals must wear masks, unless they are removing them to eat or drink concessions;
  • Outdoor performances at outdoor entertainment centers, including movie theaters, performing arts centers, and other concert venues, are limited to a number that ensures that all people can remain six feet apart, but no more than 500 people. If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, the outdoor gathering limit will be removed.
  • Large venues, including sports and entertainment venues, with a fixed seating capacity of 2,500 or more are permitted to host events at 20 percent capacity indoors, and large venues with a fixed seating capacity of 1,000 or more can host events at 50 percent capacity outdoors. Both capacity limits exclude participants, such as performers, and staff, such as ushers, but include patrons and other members of the public. Note: If there is no unexpected surge in COVID-19 numbers, on Wednesday, May 19, the outdoor gathering limit will be removed.
  • Cordon off any indoor or outdoor dance floors to the public;
  • Limit occupancy in restrooms that remain open to avoid over-crowding and maintain social distancing through signage and, where practicable, the utilization of attendants to monitor capacity
  • Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, to customers
  • Require reservations, cancellations and prepayments be made via electronic or telephone reservation systems to limit physical interactions.
  • Limit the use of equipment rented or otherwise provided by the business to one person at a time
  • Per Executive Order No. 183, smoking, including vaping, is permitted indoors only when otherwise permitted by State law.

Requirements to Protect Employees and Others

Employers must comply with the following requirements:

  • Require workers and customers to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, to the maximum extent possible;
  • Provide approved sanitization materials for employees and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
  • Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide employees with sufficient break time for that purpose;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines;
  • Prior to each shift, conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance;
  • Do not allow sick employees to enter workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws;
  • Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite; and
  • Clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when an employee at the site has been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness.

Detailed requirements and exemptions for certain employers can be found in the full text of Executive Order No. 192.

Entertainment businesses, cultural venues, and performance centers can download One Jersey Pledge-Keep Jersey Arts Alive posters with a commitment to protect their customers and employees.

Source: Executive Order No. 153; Executive Order No. 156; Executive Order No. 157; Executive Order No. 181; Executive Order No. 183' Executive Order No. 192; Executive Order No. 196; Administrative Order No. 2020-24; Executive Order No. 225; Executive Order No. 230; Executive Order No. 238