Executive Order No. 228 (2021) -

Executive Order No. 228 (2021)

Governor Philip D. Murphy

Executive Order No. 228 (2021)

An Order Clarifying that Wedding Receptions Can Operate at an Increased Capacity

Issued: March 3, 2021.

Effective: March 5, 2021.

WHEREAS, in light of the dangers posed by Coronavirus disease 2019 ("COVID-19"), I issued Executive Order No. 103 on March 9, 2020, the facts and circumstances of which are adopted by reference herein, which declared both a Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency; and

WHEREAS, through Executive Order Nos. 119, 138, 151, 162, 171, 180, 186, 191, 200, 210, 215, and 222, issued on April 7, 2020, May 6, 2020, June 4, 2020, July 2, 2020, August 1, 2020, August 27, 2020, September 25, 2020, October 24, 2020, November 22, 2020, December 21, 2020, January 19, 2021, and February 17, 2021, respectively, the facts and circumstances of which are adopted by reference herein, I declared that the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency continued to exist and declared that all Executive Orders and Administrative Orders adopted in whole or in part in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency remained in full force and effect; and

WHEREAS, in accordance with N.J.S.A. App. A:9-34 and -51, I reserve the right to utilize and employ all available resources of State government to protect against the emergency created by COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, as COVID-19 has continued to spread across New Jersey, I have issued a series of Executive Orders pursuant to my authority under the New Jersey Civilian Defense and Disaster Control Act and the Emergency Health Powers Act, to protect the public health, safety, and welfare against the emergency created by COVID-19, including Executive Order Nos. 104-133, Nos. 135138, Nos. 140-166, Nos. 168-173, No. 175, Nos. 177-181, No. 183, Nos. 186-187, Nos. 189-198, No. 200, Nos. 203-204, No. 207, and 210-211 (2020) and Nos. 214-216, Nos. 219-220, Nos. 222223, and No. 225 (2021), the facts and circumstances of which are all adopted by reference herein; and

WHEREAS, to limit community spread from person-to-person contact through use of social mitigation measures, Executive Order No. 107 (2020) prohibited gatherings of individuals and ordered residents to remain at home, except in limited situations such as leaving the home for a religious reason, closed all recreational and entertainment businesses, and limited all restaurants, dining establishments, and food courts, with or without a liquor license, all bars, and all other holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges, to offering food delivery and/or take-out services only; and

WHEREAS, after consultation with officials from the Department of Health ("DOH"), I announced a multi-stage New Jersey's Road Back Plan for the methodical and strategic reopening of businesses and activities, including increased capacity for religious services, based on scientific data and metrics concerning the level of disease transmission risk and essential classification; and

WHEREAS, Executive Order No. 219, issued February 3, 2021, most recently increased the indoor limit for all wedding ceremonies to no greater than 35 percent of the room's capacity, but maintained the overall cap of 150 persons in place since September of 2020; and

WHEREAS, Executive Order No. 225, issued February 22, 2021, increased the indoor limit for religious services or celebrations, including wedding ceremonies, to 50 percent of the capacity of the room in which it takes please, but regardless of the capacity of the room, such limit shall never be smaller than 10 persons; and

WHEREAS, wedding receptions are limited to 10 individuals indoors and 25 individuals outdoors consistent with current gathering limits; and

WHEREAS, in the past twelve months, we have gained critical knowledge regarding COVID-19, including a better understanding of the risks associated with certain activities, the activities that are most conducive to spread of the virus, and the safeguards that can be implemented to mitigate those risks; and

WHEREAS, this information, together with expanded access to testing, personal protective equipment, and other materials necessary to protect individuals from spread of the virus, as well as the ongoing implementation of the State's vaccination program, allows for certain activities to continue subject to more limited restrictions; and

WHEREAS, the number of new hospital admissions, current hospitalized patients, ventilators in use, and patients in intensive care have decreased over the past month; and

WHEREAS, in light of aforementioned improvements in the State's numbers and our continued emphasis on the importance of wedding ceremonies, it is appropriate to allow venues to host wedding receptions at the same capacity that is currently permitted for certain ceremonies; and

WHEREAS, all gatherings, whatever their nature, must continue to utilize protective measures, including use of masks and social distancing; and

WHEREAS, while New Jersey is rapidly expanding its capacity to vaccinate large numbers of individuals each day, it is still appropriate to maintain strict mitigation protocols, including overall limits on gatherings, to ensure spread is limited while dissemination of the vaccine continues; and

WHEREAS, it is critical that individuals continue to follow social distancing, masking, and other infection control protocols while vaccine administration is ongoing in the State; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution and statutes of the State of New Jersey, particularly the provisions of N.J.S.A. 26:13-1et seq., N.J.S.A. App. A: 9-33 et seq., N.J.S.A. 38A:3-6.1, and N.J.S.A. 38A:2-4 and all amendments and supplements thereto, confer upon the Governor of the State of New Jersey certain emergency powers, which I have invoked;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, PHILIP D. MURPHY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

1. The number of individuals at an indoor gathering that is a wedding reception shall be limited to 35 percent of the capacity of the room in which it takes place, but regardless of the capacity of the room, such limit shall never be smaller than 10 persons or larger than 150 persons, excluding the reception venue's staff. For purposes of this Paragraph, any private residence or residential unit shall be treated as a single "room." Paragraph 1 of Executive Order No. 196 (2020) is hereby rescinded to the extent that it conflicts with the provisions of this Order.

2. The number of individuals at an outdoor gathering that is a wedding reception shall be limited to a number that ensures that individuals can remain six feet apart, but such limit shall never be larger than 150 persons, excluding the reception venue's staff. Paragraph 4 of Executive Order No. 204 (2020) is hereby rescinded to the extent that it conflicts with the provisions of this Order.

3. It is hereby clarified that the capacity limits for indoor wedding ceremonies, as stated in Paragraph 1 of Executive Order No. 225 (2021), exclude the venue's staff.

4. The State Director of Emergency Management, who is the Superintendent of State Police, shall have the discretion to make additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions, and exclusions to the terms of this Order.

5. It shall be the duty of every person or entity in this State or doing business in this State and of the members of the governing body and every official, employee, or agent of every political subdivision in this State and of each member of all other governmental bodies, agencies, and authorities in this State of any nature whatsoever, to cooperate fully in all matters concerning this Order.

6. No municipality, county, or any other agency or political subdivision of this State shall enact or enforce any order, rule, regulation, ordinance, or resolution which will or might in any way conflict with any of the provisions of this Order, or which will or might in any way interfere with or impede its achievement, except as otherwise provided in Executive Order No. 195 (2020).

7. Penalties for violations of this Order may be imposed under, among other statutes, N.J.S.A. App. A:9-49 and -50.

8. This Order shall take effect on Friday, March 5, 2021 at 6:00 a.m., and shall remain in effect until revoked or modified by the Governor, who shall consult with the Commissioner of DOH as appropriate.

(Published June 30, 2017 in the New Jersey Register at 49 N.J.R. 2307(b). Published March 5, 2021 in the New Jersey Register at 53 N.J.R. 573(a).)

The following state regulations pages link to this page.