NJ to drop indoor mask mandate in most settings, following CDC guidance


TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey residents can forgo masks in most indoor settings beginning Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

The announcement brings the Garden State in line with updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans.

After the CDC eased face covering requirements earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy initially said his administration was not yet comfortable with rolling back its indoor mask mandate. However, he did sign an executive order last week eliminating outdoor mask requirements in settings open to the public.

Murphy said the decision to reverse course and ease indoor mask requirements was based on science, data, and facts. 

“The actions we are taking today are true to that,” he said. “I had always been cautiously optimistic – with an emphasis on the ‘cautiously’ – but I knew that if we all did our parts, we could make it work.”

Individual businesses and other entities may continue to require their employees and customers or guests to wear face masks after the state requirement is lifted on Friday, Murphy said.

“We ask that you be respectful in adhering to these requirements where they apply,” the governor added.

Indoor workplaces that are not open to the general public should follow their existing health and safety protocols.

As recommended by the CDC, there are spaces where masking will continue to be required, including:

  • Elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools
  • Child care centers and facilities
  • Youth summer camps
  • Public, private, or parochial preschool program premises
  • health care settings and long-term care facilities
  • correctional facilities
  • homeless shelters
  • Public transit, including airplanes, buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation
  • Transportation hubs such as an airport or train station.
  • Public-facing state offices, such as Motor Vehicle Commission centers
  • Worksites that are closed to the public, including warehousing and manufacturing facilities

The statewide 6-foot social distancing requirement for all indoor and outdoor spaces will also be lifted on Friday. This includes businesses such as restaurants and retail stores, personal care businesses, gyms, and recreational and entertainment businesses, such as casinos.

All indoor gathering limits will be lifted on June 4. 

“The steps we’ve announced today are the clearest signs of our commitment to carefully and deliberately reopening our state,” the governor said. “We continue to trend in the right direction with every indicator and our vaccination numbers have increased dramatically over the last two weeks.”

The state Health Department reported 260 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID and 10 additional deaths on Monday. Since March 2020, there have been 885,987 confirmed cases and 23,440 fatalities.

“This pandemic is not over … Lifting the mask mandate is not a license to be a knucklehead,” Murphy said. “Lifting the mask mandate is simply acknowledging how far we’ve come together and that, together, we’ll cross the finish line.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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