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New Jersey Eases COVID Restrictions For Proms, Graduations And Other Gatherings

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that he will soon lift some restrictions for indoor and outdoor gatherings in New Jersey.

As CBS2's Meg Baker reported, the governor shared some good news for high school seniors. After more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic, kids can dance at prom.

"We've been holding our breath for prom," said Tricia Ryan, whose son is a senior at Morris Knolls High School in Denville. "What's the point of prom if they aren't able to dance?"


Capacity limits for indoor-catered events, including proms, political events, weddings, funerals and memorial services, will be raised to 50%, with a maximum of 250 people, the governor said.

Increasing indoor capacity gives schools more flexibility.

"Now we can change our plans as we had hoped we'd be able to and have all the students together," Westfield High School Principal Mary Asfendis said.

WATCH: Gov. Murphy Announces Loosened COVID-19 Restrictions

Westfield seniors were all smiles when they heard dancing is a go. You could see it in their eyes, because they were wearing masks Monday and will be at prom, too.

Many worried there would be no dancing allowed, but the governor announced dance floors are allowed at indoor catered events, with masks and social distancing required.

"It will be good to actually get on a dance floor and dance instead of just sitting at tables," student Paige Eckard said.

Luke Barry said the next order of business is to actually get a date, adding about his senior year due to COVID protocols, "It has been a rough one, no doubt."

"She's going to be so excited to just see her friends and get out there and just kind of have a more normal senior year experience, because it has been anything but that," said Muffin Muller, whose daughter is a senior at Millburn High School.

"Our school has been really great. They actually moved the prom date from May until June to allow the maximum ability to be able to have it," Ryan said.

Some parents, however, questioned the mask mandate.

"I wish there was concessions for kids who are vaccinated, and not having to wear masks, especially if the venue is going to be outdoors," Ryan said.


Manasquan's student council is playing it safe with a large tent over the tennis courts for an outdoor prom.

"All the parents are gonna go all out and decorate for everybody just to let loose and have a fun night for once in a while," senior Chase Hulsart said.

Additionally, graduations can expand. The outdoor gathering limit will be raised from 200 to 500 people.

Murphy said COVID-19 metrics will continue to be evaluated, with the goal of raising the limit again before Memorial Day.

Large venue outdoor capacity will be raised to 50% for venues with 1,000 or more fixed seats. The current limit is 30% for venues with 2,500 seats.

Dance floors will remain closed at bars and other related businesses.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report

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