State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25) was joined by State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-40) in calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to eliminate outdoor gathering restrictions as high school and college graduations approach, calling the regulations “inconsistent.”
Particularly, Bucco took exception with the current guidelines that certain outdoor gathering be limited to 200 people, while other events do not need to follow the same rules.
High school and college graduation events fall under the current guidelines, while wedding ceremonies, funerals, memorial services, political activities, and religious activities do not.
“If Governor Murphy thinks the science supports not having gathering limits for weddings or funerals, the same science should apply to all types of outdoor events, including graduations. The coronavirus doesn’t know the difference,” said the Morris County lawmaker in a press statement.
Bucco argued New Jersey residents were frustrated with the rules applying to one event but not another, saying the orders were “incredibly frustrating.”
The GOP State Senator said he does not want to see a repeat of last year when schools cancelled their traditional graduation ceremonies at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.
With vaccinations on the upswing, Bucco believes school officials, students and parents are hopeful a sense of normalcy would return for the 2021 graduation season.
“Before another graduation season is ruined with unnecessary restrictions, Governor Murphy should lift the outdoor gathering limits for everyone,” he said.
State Sen. Corrado echoed Bucco’s call, saying that her Senate colleague “is 100% right” that if it’s safe to hold an outdoor wedding reception, funeral, or political rally without gathering limits, it’s safe to hold a graduation too.
“Governor Murphy shouldn’t diminish the importance of graduation ceremonies to our students and their families,” said the GOP Senator from 40th Legislative District. “At some point, he’ll have to let people get back to living their lives.”
“Parents want to celebrate their children’s graduations without the gathering restrictions that don’t apply to other types of ceremonies and public events,” added Corrado. “We know outdoor events with social distancing and masks pose little risk, especially when you factor in our progress with vaccinations.”
Murphy Responds to Line of Questioning
On April 12, Gov. Murphy fielded a question regarding the limits between graduation events and where they were being held.
Specifically, the governor was questioned if schools would be forced to abide by the 200-person outdoor limit, or if they could utilize the 30% limit in place for outdoor stadiums.
“Yeah, so the 30% is operative assuming it’s a 2,500 person and up outdoor arena. It’s 20% if it’s an indoor 2,500 up indoor arena…we’re going to be updating this guidance and I hope expanding but not yet,” he said.