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When and how is New Jersey lifting restrictions? What does a responsible and strategic restart of New Jersey’s economy look like?
On May 18, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy unveiled a multi-stage approach to execute the responsible and strategic economic restart to put New Jersey on the road back to recovery from COVID-19. New Jersey's process for lifting restrictions is guided by six principles and key metrics.
New Jersey will enter new stages based on data that demonstrates improvements in public health and the capacity to safeguard the public. The restart will be phased-in within each stage, rather than opening all businesses and activities at once within a stage.
New Jersey entered Stage 2 on June 15, 2020.
Multi-Stage Approach to Execute a Responsible and Strategic Economic Restart
Under maximum restrictions, New Jerseyans stayed at home as much possible and activity was limited to essential tasks.
Permitted activities and businesses included emergency health care, essential construction, manufacturing, and essential retail, including grocery stores and pharmacies.
In Stage One, restrictions are relaxed on low-risk activities.
- May 2, 2020: State Parks and Forests reopen for passive recreation.
- May 2, 2020: Golf courses reopen.
- May 17, 2020: Charter fishing and watercraft rental businesses reopen.
- May 18, 2020: Non-essential construction resumes.
- May 18, 2020: Non-essential retail reopens for curbside pickup.
- May 20, 2020: In-person sales at car and motorcycle dealerships and at bicycle shops resumes.
- May 22, 2020: Public and private beaches, boardwalks, lakes, and lakeshores reopen.
- May 22, 2020: Campgrounds reopen.
- May 22, 2020: Some outdoor recreational businesses, including batting cages and golf ranges, shooting and archery ranges, horseback riding, private tennis clubs, and community gardens, restart their operations.
- May 22, 2020: The limit on outdoor gatherings, including the capacity limit for some outdoor recreational businesses, increases from 10 to 25 individuals.
- May 22, 2020: Professional sports teams can practice and engage in games or matches, if their leagues resume competition.
- May 26, 2020: Elective surgeries and invasive procedures, both medical and dental, resume.
- June 1, 2020: Horse racetracks reopen, with no spectators allowed.
- June 9, 2020: Stay-at-home order lifted and limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings increased.
- June 9, 2020: Outdoor recreational and entertainment businesses reopen, with the exception of amusement parks, water parks, and arcades.
Stage Two (New Jersey is currently in Stage Two)
In Stage Two, moderate-risk activities restart. When leaving home, New Jerseyans should wear a face covering and keep a social distance from others. All workers who can work from home should continue to work from home.
- June 15, 2020: Child care centers reopen their doors to all clients.
- June 15, 2020: Outdoor dining reopens.
- June 15, 2020: Non-essential retail stores reopen for indoor shopping.
- June 15, 2020: Motor Vehicle Commission agencies reopen for pick-up and drop-off services.
- June 15, 2020: Libraries reopen for curbside pickup.
- June 22, 2020: Organized sports activities resume.
- June 22, 2020: Personal care businesses, including barber shops and hair salons, reopen.
- June 22, 2020: Swimming pools reopen.
- June 22, 2020: Limit on outdoor gatherings increases to 250 people.
- June 29, 2020: Motor Vehicle Commission agencies begin to offer behind-the-wheel road tests.
- June 29, 2020: Indoor portions of retail shopping malls reopen.
- July 1, 2020: Colleges and universities allowed to resume limited in-person instruction
- July 2, 2020: Casinos reopen.
- July 2, 2020: Outdoor playgrounds, outdoor amusement parks, and outdoor water parks reopen.
- July 2, 2020: Museums, libraries, aquariums, and indoor recreational facilities reopen at limited capacity.
- July 2, 2020: Gyms and fitness centers may reopen outdoor spaces and offer limited individualized indoor instruction by appointment only.
- July 2, 2020: Indoor pools reopen.
- July 3, 2020: Limit on outdoor gatherings increases to 500 people
- July 6, 2020: Youth day camps and summer programs can operate.
- July 6, 2020: School districts may hold in-person summer educational programs
- July 6, 2020: Modified outdoor graduation ceremonies begin.
- July 6, 2020: NJ TRANSIT rail and light rail service resumes to full weekday schedule.
- July 7, 2020: Motor Vehicle Commission agencies resume in-person transactions, including issuing new licenses and permits.
- July 15, 2020: Seated capacity limits lifted on NJ TRANSIT and private-carrier buses, trains, light rail vehicles and Access Link vehicles.
- July 20, 2020: Certain sports are allowed to resume practices and outdoor contact drills.
- August 3, 2020: Motor Vehicle Commission agencies resume driver knowledge exams by appointment.
- August 3, 2020: Limit on indoor gatherings decreased to 25 people
- August 13, 2020: Colleges and universities allowed to resume all in-person instruction
- August 13, 2020: Schools allowed to open for in-person instruction at the start of the school year, provided they can meet required health and safety protocols
- September 1, 2020: Gyms and health clubs may reopen indoor facilities at limited capacity, provided they follow mandatory health and safety protocols
- September 1, 2020: Amusement parks and water parks may reopen indoor facilities subject to mandatory health and safety protocols
- September 1, 2020: Limit for indoor gatherings that are religious services or celebrations, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals, or memorial services increases to 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 150 people.
- September 4, 2020: Restaurants may resume indoor dining at limited capacity subject to mandatory health and safety protocols
- September 4, 2020: Theater and indoor performance venues can reopen at 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 150 people
- October 9, 2020: Outdoor visitation at Department of Corrections facilities resumes
- October 12, 2020: "Medium risk" and "high risk" organized sports allowed to resume contact practices and competitions indoors
- November 5, 2020: Private and public sector employers must adhere to new health and safety protocols to protect their in-person workforces
- November 12, 2020: Indoor dining prohibited after 10 pm and bar seating prohibited
- November 12, 2020: Municipalities and counties permitted to impose restriction on business hours of operation, after 8 pm
- November 12, 2020: K-12 and youth interstate indoor sports competitions prohibited
- November 17, 2020: Limit on indoor gatherings decreases to 10 people
- November 23, 2020: Limit on outdoor gatherings decreases to 150 people
- November 25, 2020: Division of Developmental Disabilities' in-person congregate day service facilities temporarily closed
- December 5, 2020: Indoor practices and competitions for youth and adult sports paused
- December 7, 2020: Limit on outdoor gatherings decreases to 25 people
- January 2, 2021: Indoor practices and competitions for youth and adult sports resumes
- February 5, 2021: Indoor bars and restaurants, casinos, gyms, and personal care businesses can operate at 35 percent capacity.
- February 5, 2021: Indoor dining allowed after 10 pm
- February 5,2021: Limit for indoor gatherings that are religious ceremonies or services, wedding ceremonies, political activities, memorial services or funerals, as well as performance venues and addiction support groups, increases to 35 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people.
- February 12, 2021: Two parents or guardians per athlete may attend indoor or outdoor youth sports practices and competitions.
- February 22, 2021: Indoor religious services and celebrations, including wedding ceremonies, funerals, and memorial services that involve a religious service, may be held at 50 percent of a room's capacity.
- February 22, 2021: Two parents or guardians per athlete may attend indoor or outdoor collegiate sports practices and competitions.
- March 1, 2021: Large sports and entertainment venues with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or more may host events at 10 percent capacity indoors and 15 percent capacity outdoors.
- March 3, 2021: Overnight camps permitted to reopen for the summer season.
- March 5, 2021: Indoor wedding receptions may be held at 35% capacity of the room's capacity, but no more than 150 individuals. Outdoor wedding receptions may be held with up to 150 individuals.
- March 19, 2021: Limit on general indoor gatherings increases to 25 people, and the limit on general outdoor gatherings increases to 50 people. For certain businesses, indoor capacity limits increase to 50%.
- April 2, 2021: General outdoor gatherings limit increases to 200 people, and large venues with fixed seating capacity of 2,500 or more may host indoor events at 20 percent capacity and outdoor events at 30 percent capacity.
- May 7, 2021: General outdoor gathering limit increases to 500 people, for venues with 1,000 fixed seats or more, outdoor capacity limits will increase to 50% capacity, and the maximum capacity for certain indoor activities will increase.
- May 19, 2021: General indoor gathering limit increases to 50 people and the outdoor gathering limit will be removed.
- May 19, 2021: Percentage-based indoor and outdoor capacity limits removed for businesses and houses of worship, and instead, they must limit indoor and outdoor capacity to a number that ensures all individuals or groups of people can remain six feet apart.
- May 19, 2021: Indoor catered events, including wedding receptions and proms, increases to 100 percent of a room's capacity, but no more than 250 individuals.
- May 19, 2021: Capacity at large indoor venues, with a fixed seating capacity of 1,000 or more increases to 30 percent.
- May 19, 2021: Indoor intestate youth sports competitions resume.
In Stage Three, higher-contact activities restart with significant safeguarding. New Jerseyans follow all safety guidelines and respect social distancing.
Phased-in businesses and activities, with adherence to safeguarding and modification guidelines, may include:
- Expanded dining,
- Limited entertainment,
- Expanded personal care,
- Bars with limited capacity.
Precautions that apply across all stages include:
- Work that can be done from home should continue to be done from home.
- Clinically high-risk individuals who can stay at home should continue to do so.
- All residents and businesses should follow state and federal safeguarding guidelines: wash hands; wear masks in public; respect social distancing; minimize gatherings; disinfect workplace and businesses; and no mass gatherings
For additional information on COVID-19, its impact on businesses, and mitigation requirements for businesses, please visit the State of New Jersey's COVID-19 Business Information Hub.