By Alecia Reid

COLLINGSWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — Some COVID-19 restrictions are being eased in New Jersey. Starting Friday, indoor dining capacity will be expanded from 25% to 35%.

The state is also lifting the 10 p.m. service limit on restaurants. Gyms, casinos, hair salons, recreational venues and religious ceremonies will also all go from 25 to 35% capacity on Friday.

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This is great news for customers, as well as owners. The increase of indoor capacity in New Jersey may be slight, but it’s welcome.

Verde Salon in Collingswood has reimagined its space since the original COVID lockdown last March. It’s been eight months since owner Kevin Gatto started welcoming clients back.

“We’re just taking it day by day,” Gatto said.

There are fewer chairs in the boutique salon and only a few customers are allowed at a time.

“We spread out all the appointments over seven days so we’re able to space everybody out and keep everybody safe,” Gatto said.

While they continue to keep clients beautiful and safe, Verde welcomes the news that Gov. Phil Murphy is expanding capacity from 25 to 35% starting Friday.

“It’s definitely a positive sign and a sign that things are improving and that people are doing what they need to do to help mitigate the spread,” Gatto said.

That 10% increase will only make a dent for small businesses like Verde, but over at nearby Sabrina’s Cafe.

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“It’ll make a huge difference for us because we’re a really popular brunch spot and we can have a wait that goes on for an hour, hour-and-a-half. People want to come in and eat,” Vanessa Crupi said.

Patrons continue to support businesses any way they can, hoping it will also help them as well.

“I can’t wait. That’ll bring more customers in, more money,” Deptford resident Christina Lombardi said.

“It’s one step better in the right direction,” Glassboro resident Amber Zaremba said.

Although it’s a lofty goal, some are hoping this means we’re on the way to 100% capacity sometime this year.


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