New Jersey

Keep the Mask on Indoors in NJ, for Now, Even If You Got COVID Vaccine

Gov. Phil Murphy is holding off right now on easing indoor mask wearing requirements for vaccinated people in New Jersey

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What to Know

  • Gov. Phil Murphy is not ready yet to follow new CDC guidelines for mask wearing for fully vaccinated people.
  • No matter your COVID vaccine status, masks should still be worn in crowded public spaces in New Jersey.
  • "We will get there, as it relates to indoor masking, it’s only a matter of time — if you’re in a business and a public setting, we’re not there yet," Murphy said Friday.

Fully vaccinated or not, plan on keeping the face mask handy in New Jersey, for now.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday said New Jersey isn't yet ready to drop its indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated people despite new guidance from the CDC, though he expects the Garden State could reach that point "within a matter of weeks."

Murphy addressed the matter during a vaccine site visit in East Orange with celebrity Whoopi Goldberg. While he said the state isn't ready to ditch indoor masks for fully vaccinated folks yet, he did say those fully immunized "can do away with our masks" outdoors. Murphy had hedged on that when the CDC tweaked its guidance on outdoor face coverings for fully vaccinated people just about two weeks ago.

"We will get there, as it relates to indoor masking, it’s only a matter of time — if you’re in a business and a public setting, we’re not there yet," Murphy said Friday, according to NBC New York. "We’re frankly not there yet.”

The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on indoor masking, released Thursday, says people who are fully vaccinated don't need to wear face coverings except in certain situations.

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

How do the governors and mayors accommodate that? It may take some time to figure out.

Pennsylvania quickly adopted the new CDC guidance, while Philadelphia has yet to change its masking policies. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to announce a decision as it relates to masks. 

Businesses and retailers also can set their own masking standards, should they choose to do so.

Murphy's words on Friday came on the heels from a statement from his administration on Thursday.

"Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Health are reviewing the new CDC guidance on masking requirements," Alex Altman, Murphy's deputy press secretary, wrote. "We continue to move forward in our efforts to vaccinate all willing and eligible individuals who live, work, or study in New Jersey."

To date, just under 3.62 million people in New Jersey are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Nearly 4.54 million people have gotten at least one dose. Murphy has set a goal of getting 4.7 million New Jerseyans (around 70% of the population) fully vaccinated by the end of June.

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