High school proms and graduations may take place as scheduled this year, though some limitations on crowd size are likely to remain in place, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on April 26.

Beginning on May 10, events will be allowed to take place at up to 50% of capacity, and restrictions will be eased to permit dancing at proms, according to the governor. There is a caveat – both graduation ceremonies and proms will be governed by the COVID restrictions in place at the time of the event.

This means that, if conditions continue to improve, the Murphy administration could further relax regulations. It also means that, if the pandemic worsens, more vigilant standards could be restored.

“Our robust COVID-19 vaccination program is starting to show results through lower COVID-19 case metrics including a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Murphy said in a statement released Monday afternoon by his office. “This allows us to take steps so that New Jerseyans can have a much more normal summer including allowing for students to celebrate important milestones and events like graduations and proms in-person. We hope to announce further reopening steps in the coming weeks as more and more state residents get vaccinated.”

The changes announced April 26 take effect on May 10. They include:

  • The outdoor gathering limit will be raised to 500 from 200. Murphy said they may be raised again “perhaps considerably” around Memorial Day, after which most high school graduations are held.
  • Outdoor capacity limits will be raised to 50% capacity for venues with at least 1,000 seats, the size of many school football stadiums, Murphy said.
  • Capacity at indoor events, including proms, will be raised to 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people, up from 35% capacity with 150 people. These events must continue to follow all indoor dining protocols.
  • Dance floors can be opened at private catered events, such as proms, but not yet at bars or nightclubs.