Perhaps for the first time in nearly a year, things are starting to look up in New Jersey, with Gov. Phil Murphy suggesting Wednesday that more rollback of restrictions could start as soon as next week.

“Remember, we talked about things changing in March,” Murphy said. “March is Monday. It is upon us. This is not some theoretical time down the road.”

“The last thing we want to do is lurch forward and pull ourselves back. So on the margin, we want to certainly open things up but we want to do it carefully and responsibly," he said. “If there’s mounting evidence that the vaccines are good against the variants in addition to the fact our numbers continue to go in the right direction, there’s no question we’re going to open up.”

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Murphy said his next move likely would be to increase indoor dining capacity from 35% to 50%.

"I don’t know when but if the numbers keep getting better it’ll be sooner than later," he said.

A couple of months ago New Jersey officials were afraid infections might continue to climb and hospitalizations would be shooting through the roof this month.

But over the past several weeks, just the opposite has happened, with new coronavirus patient infections, the rate of transmission, the spot positivity and hospitalizations all continuing to trend lower.

Murphy said the state still has more demand for vaccine than supply but “we are making tremendous strides every day with tens of thousands of doses administered.”

The state is expected to reach the 2 million vaccination mark in the next few days.

The governor also noted supplies of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are projected to increase, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could get an emergency use authorization by the end of this week and new community-based vaccination partnership at sites across the state will "slowly but surely" get the "needle moving in the right direction."

“There remains without question a supply demand imbalance,” said Murphy “But it feels like the ground is beginning to shift potentially into a better place.”

The governor said the biggest wildcard remains viral variants and what role, if any they will play in infection rates in the coming weeks.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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