By Stephanie Stahl

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — Monday was a huge day on the road to recovery in New Jersey — most COVID-19 restrictions are dropped. No more limiting the number of people at restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, museums and stores.

This all takes effect on May 19. But there are still a few rules in place.

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New Jersey joined New York and Connecticut today in announcing that the biggest COVID restrictions will be eliminated in two weeks. Gov. Phil Murphy said some would happen as soon as this Friday.

Getting a drink at a bar in New Jersey, something that’s been prohibited for a year, will be allowed to resume Friday, May 7, a week ahead of schedule.

Gov. Murphy’s major announcements covered a number of restrictions that will be lifted over the next two weeks, moves that are happening because COVID cases are down and vaccinations are increasing.

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“We have been at war for the past 14 months with this virus,” Murphy said. “So what this is, Operation Jersey Summer, this is our comprehensive effort again unlike any effort in any other American state, to drop the hammer and put a stake into the heart of this virus.”

On May 19, many restrictions will be lifted in New Jersey as long as people wear masks and stay distanced. There will no longer be limits on indoor dining, at gyms, salons, businesses, and all outdoor activities.

“To say that we’ve dropped everything right now is inaccurate. We have not, but these are big, big steps,” Murphy said.

Among the restrictions that will stay in place but expand on May 19: Catered events will be allowed to have a maximum of 250 people; Large indoor events with 1,000 or more fixed seats can go up to 30% capacity; And private indoor gatherings can have up to 50 people.

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“Every single activity that we just discussed is substantially safer if you are vaccinated than if you are unvaccinated,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the state would be starting a number of initiatives to increase shots in arms, including one that gives a free beer to people who get vaccinated under a new program called “Shot and a Beer.”

Stephanie Stahl