The state’s wedding industry – absolutely decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual state shutdown – could finally see relief.
Gov. Phil Murphy said that outdoor services and ceremonies can start again, as can outdoor catering – typically reserved for setting like wedding receptions – so long as they stay limited to 100 people.
The rollback of restrictions are in response to week-over-week drops in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and fatalities.
Under the executive order Murphy signed earlier this week, indoor gatherings are limited to 25 percent capacity or 50 people, whichever is less. Everyone must wear a mask and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Crowds at outdoor gatherings, meanwhile, are limited to 100 people, but the governor said he hopes to increase the cap to 250 people as of June 22, and 500 people as of July 3.
Social distancing – a 6-foot distance between people – must be maintained, with the exception of family and household members, caretakers, romantic partners and event organizers, for both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Physical items such as equipment can’t be shared by multiple attendees.
Large events like weddings, Murphy said, need “advance notice.”
But religious gatherings, which a wedding can be, as well as political activities such as protests, are exempt from rules on the crowd size and social distancing. Participants still must wear masks, and outdoor coverings, such as tents and tarps, would be allowed solely to protect against “foul weather or for shade.”
Indoor catering halls will likely reopen along with indoor dining – which is still a ways off, the governor said.
The wedding industry in New Jersey, and ancillary businesses such as catering, event spaces, photographers, florists and private transportation, have been decimated as the state shutdown drags on into the summer.
Weddings across the state have been postponed indefinitely, and many have been cancelled.
“We need three or four weeks notice because we can’t just reopen a wedding by just turning on a light switch, calling up our bride that’s booked for July 1 and say ‘oh, your wedding is on for July 1’,” Joseph Maurillo, owner of the Essex County wedding venue Nanina’s in the Park, told lawmakers at a Senate economic recovery hearing on June 9.
“The calls we take every day, the brides are so upset.”