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Governor Murphy Will Lift Mask Mandates in Time for Summer Break

After 15 long months of battling the COVID-19 crisis, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on May 24, 2021 that the statewide indoor mask mandate and requirement for maintaining six feet of social distancing in indoor and outdoor settings would be lifted on May 28. The Governor also signed Executive Order No. 241 on May 17, which eliminates the requirement of masks in public outdoor spaces. These new executive orders come into effect, as more and more New Jerseyans have gotten vaccinated and the number of COVID-19 cases has continued to decline. As of June 16, 9,257,159 total doses have been administered in New Jersey and 4,627,717 residents are now fully vaccinated. Governor Murphy said in a statement, “New Jersey is making incredible progress towards our vaccination goals and our COVID-19 case numbers continue to trend downwards, allowing us to eliminate the need for masks outdoors.” 


With summer break around the corner, New Jerseyans are now able to remove their face masks indoors in many places and avoid social distancing due to the increase in vaccine shots and declining number of COVID-19 cases. However, people who aren’t fully vaccinated are encouraged to continue wearing masks indoors. The Governor said they are putting the responsibility of masking on individuals. “Please be responsible and do the right thing - for your own safety and your community’s safety,” he said. Murphy also encouraged people to continue wearing masks if they continue to feel more comfortable doing so. 


The Governor’s announcement comes almost a week after he rejected similar mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying he wanted “more time on the clock” for residents to get vaccinated. Although the mask mandates have been lifted, Murphy reminded the state that the battle against the pandemic is not yet over. He said, “The pandemic is not over. Lifting the mask mandate is not a license to be a knucklehead. Lifting the mask mandate is simply acknowledging how far we’ve come together and that, together, we’ll cross the finish line.” As the state continues to mitigate the spread of the virus, residents are encouraged to remain cautious and safe. 


Although the number of COVID-19 cases is trending downward, masks must still be worn in certain locations, such as health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and on public transit and transportation hubs. Murphy said that face coverings must be worn in “public-facing state offices” such as the Motor Vehicle Commission offices. The Governor also said that people working in manufacturing and warehousing will be required to wear masks. In addition, mask mandates will remain in place at summer camps, preschools, daycare centers, elementary schools and secondary schools, as children 12 and under are unable to get vaccinated. 


Governor Murphy has pledged to fully inoculate 70% of the state’s population by the end of June. On Monday, May 24, he said, “The steps we’ve announced today are the clearest signs of our commitment to carefully and deliberately reopening our state. We continue to trend in the right direction with every indicator and our vaccination numbers have increased dramatically over the last two weeks.” Hopefully, as more New Jerseyans continue to get vaccinated, we will be one step closer to defeating the virus.