NJ Top News 5/19 – Only NJ and Hawaii Reject CDC Guidance on Masks Indoors
Most of the restrictions imposed on New Jersey residents and business have now been lifted and Gov. Phil Murphy has said he will allow his public health emergency declaration to expire in June.
It was that declaration that gave Murphy the broad power to shut down the state more than a year ago and issue executive orders to keep tight restrictions on movements and gatherings.
Unlike most other states, including New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, the indoor mask mandate remains in effect in New Jersey. New Jersey and Hawaii are the only states in the nation that have continued to impose mask mandates.
Perhaps the biggest change, as of today, is the lifting of gathering and capacity limits on indoor venues and businesses.
Per Murphy's Executive Order 239, that includes:
- Hair Salons and barbershops
- Retail businesses
- Gyms and health clubs
- Indoor amusement venues
- Indoor pools
However, there is a caveat: social distancing remains at 6 feet. Restaurants, in particular, say the lifting of capacity limits means nothing if they have to keep that much space between tables.
There are some restrictions that remain on indoor gatherings. For things like political events, weddings, receptions, funerals or any events at a catering facility, the capacity limit is 250 people per room.
If you are planning to throw a party at your house, you can have as many people as you want in your backyard, as long as they can stay six feet apart. An indoor house party is capped at 50-people.
For the most part, residents and businesses have adapted to these restrictions and while they welcome the changes, frustration remains over Murphy's insistence of keeping mask mandates in place.
Most of the nation's governors have opted to follow CDC guidance that says masking is no longer necessary, even in close quarters indoors if you have been fully vaccinated. However, even in places that have lifted the mask mandate, there is no mechanism in place for verifying if someone has been inoculated against COVID-19.
Murphy says that is why he is keeping the mask mandate in place in New Jersey, because he does not want retail and hospitality workers to become the "mask police."
As for when New Jersey will lift the mask requirement, Murphy would only say "sooner, not later."
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