Movie theaters will be allowed to reopen this Friday for the first time since being shut down by Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders in March.

Murphy made the announcement during his thrice-weekly COVID-19 press conference Monday, the same day he announced indoor dining could return at New Jersey restaurants for the first time since the novel coronavirus hit New Jersey.

Attendance at any given movie — but not a movie theater complex overall — will be capped at either 25 percent of room capacity or 150 movie-goers, whichever is less. That extends beyond the restriction in place for most indoor gatherings — 25 percent or 25 people.

Murphy also said Monday he'd extend the looser restriction on indoor weddings, funerals, memorial services, and religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment — currently at 25 percent or 100 people — to 25 percent or 150 people.

Groups that purchase tickets together at movie theaters will be able to sit together, but anyone else will need to be six feet or more apart. Masks will be required, Murphy said, "unless you're pulling it down to put away a handful of popcorn."

"We know this is a virus of opportunity. Let's not give it any unforced opportunities," Murphy said at the press conference.

The announcement means several major changes to New Jersey's restrictions in a short time — with many students returning to in-person instruction as schools open next week, indoor dining resuming, and indoor entertainment allowed at limited capacity. Murphy didn't say in early remarks Monday how the state would trace any potential outbreaks to a particular activity with multiple occurring at once.

His press conference was continuing as of this story's publication.

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