By Shlomo Schorr
New Jersey on Friday officially lifted its indoor mask mandate for the first time since coronavirus restrictions went into effect in March, 2020.
Governor Phil Murphy, who had faced criticism for being one of the final Governors to lift the mask mandate following updated guidance from the CDC that it is now safe to do so, made the announcement at his Trenton press conference on Monday.
“In this pandemic we know that days and weeks matter,” said Murphy. “When the CDC took all of us by surprise and updated its masking guidance — some 11 days ago I think at this point, which also caused confusion across the country — we did not react in a knee-jerk fashion.
“I do not for one minute regret our taking these extra two weeks to ensure that the dramatic decreases we have begun seeing in cases and hospitalizations continue,” Murphy added.
The mandate has been lifted for everyone, even for those who have not yet been vaccinated – though Murphy said those people are “encouraged” to continue wearing a mask while indoors.
“We are asking people to be responsible and to do the right thing — for your own safety and that of your community,” the governor said of unvaccinated people.
However, face coverings will still be required on public transportation, in schools, in child care facilities, at summer camps, in healthcare centers, at workplaces closed to the public (including warehouse and manufacturing facilities), and inside state offices open to the public (such as Motor Vehicle Commission sites).
Unvaccinated people are strongly encouraged to keep social distancing, as well, Murphy said.