New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy will expand the capacity limits at several indoor business categories to 50 percent, Governor Murphy announced during his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. The news was first reported by NorthJersey.com earlier in the day.

The expanded capacity limits will go into effect for indoor dining across the state as of next Friday (March 19).

The expanded capacity limits will also go into effect for gyms, casinos, recreational/amusement parks, salons/personal care businesses across the state.

Indoor dining has been capped at 35% following the winter increase in COVID-19 cases. That has significantly decreased -- particularly in terms of the virus's effect on the health care system.

"We feel confident in the steps announced today given the data we’ve been seeing over the past five weeks," Murphy said. "On Feb. 5, when our restaurant capacity last changed, our hospitals were treating nearly 2,900 patients. That number has come down by 1,000 and been consistent since then."

The statewide mandate on masks in public places remains in effect, but the governor's office is confident in today's news.

"While the numbers of new cases we report daily can fluctuate, and some days can be high, we believe that, when all factors are weighed, we can make this expansion without leading to undue further stress on our health care system," Murphy said on Wednesday during his COVID-19 press briefing.

As of mid-morning Wednesday, more than 2.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered across the state of New Jersey.

Murphy reminded residents to remain vigilant in the fight against the virus.

"As our weather finally becomes warmer, I’m encouraging everyone in the strongest possible terms to engage in social activities OUTSIDE whenever possible. We know this virus is many times more transmissible indoors than outdoors," Murphy said on Wednesday.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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