By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
As our state continues to reopen the economy in stages, we want to help you to be aware of what opens when and how some of the restrictions on reopening affect the way you interact with businesses and people in social settings.
Houses of worship, restaurants, community pools, childcare centers and state agencies will look and operate differently than when you last visited them. Here’s a look and how you can protect yourselves and others.
Indoor social and religious gatherings are permitted at up to 25 percent of building capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower, while up to 100 people are now allowed to attend outdoor social gatherings. There is no cap on First Amendment-protected activities, such as protests, or outdoor religious services. But please continue to social distance and wear a mask if you are going to take part in protests or other gatherings where it is difficult to control how close you are to other people.
As the state entered Stage 2 of the state’s reopening plan on June 15, childcare facilities began reopening under the guidelines created by the NJ Department of Children and Families. You may also enjoy your favorite restaurants again for outdoor dining. But they will look and operate differently. Following state Department of Health safety protocols, restaurants and establishments with liquor licenses have to limit sitting to no more than eight customers per table with tables at least six feet apart.
Non-essential retail businesses also began reopening June 15 at 50 percent capacity. You still need to wear a mask to protect yourself and other shoppers as you return to browse the aisles of your favorite stores.
The Motor Vehicle Commission has begun processing and validating permits from driving schools and high schools at designated Licensing Centers, including the MVC facilities in Eatontown and Freehold. The MVC also has begun processing registration and title work from car dealers at designated Vehicle Centers. However, you will have to wait until June 29 to take a road test or have your individual paperwork processed for new licenses, permits, individual registrations, title transactions for out-of-state transfers, and REAL ID.
Looking ahead, starting next week on June 22 the limit on outdoor non-protest, non-religious gatherings will increase to 250 people. You will be able to get a haircut as hair salons, nail salons, and barbershops and all personal care businesses, including spas, tanning salons and massage parlors, will be allowed to reopen with mask-wearing requirements. You also will be able to enjoy swimming in community pools as they reopen June 22 and resume Non-contact outdoor sporting activities. However, any sporting activities that involve person-to-person contact or individuals routinely interacting in close proximity (within six feet) of one another will remain prohibited. High school sporting activities under the jurisdiction of the NJSIAA may resume under NJSIAA reopening protocols on June 30.
If we all continue to practice social distancing; wash our hands frequently but always after being in stores, outdoor dining, religious services or any activity where you touch common surfaces; and to wear a mask when appropriate, we will be able to enjoy a safe reopening.
In the meantime, if you have questions about the reopening, please email them to [email protected] and we will do our best to answer them. If you need assistance checking on the status of your benefits or any constituent services please go to tinyurl.com/LD11Help to tell us how we can help.