No restaurant COVID capacity limits

On May 19, all restaurant capacity limits will be lifted in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at a press conference on Monday.

Currently, New Jersey is at 50% indoor dining capacity.

Restaurants will still have to keep tables spaced 6 feet apart or have physical partitions between tables. It’s an important distinction, since restaurants have not returned to 100% capacity because of these guidelines. Instead, going forward there will be no set capacity cap. Whatever number of people a restaurant can accommodate — while maintaining social distancing — will be allowed.

Murphy also announced that parties with nine or more people will be allowed to sit at the same table as of May 19 — previously, the limit was eight to a table. And the prohibition on bar-side seating, buffets and self-service foods will be lifted on Friday, May 7.

“These are the most aggressive steps we have taken to reopen to date,” Murphy said. The easing of restrictions is due to the state’s COVID-19 transmission rate continuing to trend “decisively in the right direction,” he said.

Chef/Owner Olivier Muller poses for a photo in the outdoor dining area of Faubourg in Montclair on Wednesday September 11, 2019.

“At the end of the day, people are getting more comfortable,” said Olivier Muller, chef and co-owner of Faubourg in Montclair. “There are more people vaccinated.”

“We continue to be cautious,” Muller said. “We have dividers between every table. Our staff still wear masks even though they are vaccinated. We will continue to do what we do. Our goal is safety for everyone.”

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