Restaurant and bar owners who have been pushing to be allowed to welcome more customers inside their businesses got a bit of relief Wednesday when Gov. Phil Murphy expanded indoor capacity from 25% to 35%.
Murphy also lifted the 10 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars to serve customers inside. The loosening of restrictions takes effect Friday — just in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday and 11 months and a day after the first coronavirus case in the state was disclosed.
The change in capacity limits also includes other entertainment and recreation businesses, including casinos and gyms, and all personal care businesses, such as barbershops and salons,
Though the seven-day average for new cases in New Jersey is about 25% higher than it was when Murphy instituted the curfew on Nov. 10, he cited the 20% decline in hospitalizations over the past month in explaining the decision.
At least 837,225 had been vaccinated in New Jersey as of early Wednesday. Of those, 145,979 have been administered their second shot and are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, there were, 2,971 patients in the state’s 71 hospitals, down slightly from 2,986 in the previous 24-hour period. Officials said 531 were getting critical care and 362 were on ventilators.
Murphy on Wednesday revealed 2,021 more confirmed coronavirus cases and 52 additional deaths. That was the fewest confirmed cases reported in a single day since Nov. 3.
At least 21,693 New Jersey residents have died since March of virus-related causes.
CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage
Here’s a roundup of the latest coronavirus news in New Jersey and elsewhere:
N.J. raises indoor gathering limits for religious, entertainment venues, weddings to 35% with 150-person max: Murphy on Wednesday also announced New Jersey will increase the capacity limits for many public indoor gatherings from 25% to 35%, matching new limits for restaurants and other businesses.
The maximum number of people allowed at indoor gatherings such as religious ceremonies or services, wedding ceremonies, political activities, and memorial services or funerals will remain at 150, though. Performance venues will also be allowed a 10% increase in capacity on beginning Friday.
Nearly 1 out of 4 Americans say they will not get COVID vaccine, according to poll: As the coronavirus pandemic enters its second year having killed almost 450,000 Americans, one-fourth of adults surveyed nationwide said they will not get a vaccine, according to a poll released Wednesday.
In the Monmouth University Poll, just half of respondents, 50%, said they wanted to be vaccinated as soon as possible, while 6% already have been vaccinated against the virus. Another 19% said they would let others go ahead of them.
CVS, Rite-Aid program will help more people in N.J. get COVID vaccines: CVS announced on Tuesday that it would start administering vaccines in some stores on Feb. 11.
The vaccines will be available at 27 CVS locations across the state, the company said, but not all locations will be open for vaccines next week. People will be able to book appointments as early as Feb. 9 as stores start to receive shipments of the vaccine, CVS said. Details on the Rite Aid program were not yet available.
COVID vaccines to be given out at some N.J. houses of worship, community centers, Murphy says: Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey will be expanding its COVID vaccine distribution program to include some houses of worship and community centers.
Murphy said the move will help the state reach more people in communities of color. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help the state execute the plan.
N.J. vaccine mega-site will offer second doses after appointment confusion, county says: After confusion over scheduling appointments for a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Gloucester County mega-site, officials on Wednesday reminded people the follow up doses would be available at the facility.
County officials have said they worked with the state to make sure those who got their first shots of the vaccine at the Rowan College of South Jersey would receive the required second dose. The county issued an update following stumbling blocks that included errors in a state-run system leading to double bookings and a limited supply of the shots.
Which N.J. schools are remote, in-person, or hybrid this week? See the full list of 811 districts: More than a dozen school districts planned returns to the classroom this week, as schools continue to change learning formats during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As of Monday, 470 districts were hybrid, 213 remote, and 89 fully in-person. Fifteen districts made the switch from all-remote to hybrid learning this week, while the number of fully in-person districts increased by 3 to 89.
U.S. cases: At least 450,000 of the approximately 26.5 million to test positive for the coronavirus in the U.S. have died as of 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Worldwide cases: As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the coronavirus has led to more than 2.27 million deaths in 192 counties, according to the center. More than 104.4 million have been infected since the outbreak started in December 2019. At least 58 million have recovered.
NJ Advance Media staff writers Matt Arco, Noah Cohen, Nick Devlin, Karin Price Mueller, Katie Kausch and Adam Clark contributed to this report.
Thank you for relying on us to provide the journalism you can trust. Please consider supporting NJ.com with a subscription.