Businesses in New Jersey split over how to handle end of mask mandate
New Jersey’s indoor mask mandate ended on Friday, putting an end to the 14-month period where New Jersey residents were forced to wear masks inside businesses.
Gov. Phil Murphy says that while the mandate has been lifted, individual businesses may decide if they want to require masks inside of their stores.
Signature Fitness in Belleville says that gymgoers may ditch their masks while working out.
“We feel free again. It feels like, ‘Yes, yes. We can breathe,'” says Liz Torres.
News 12 New Jersey caught up with Torres while she was doing her deadlifts. She says that working out has been difficult while wearing a mask.
“Deadlifting is a little bit easier. But cardio and breathing is a little bit hard. The treadmill is hard,” she says.
But Emely Gomez says she will keep her mask on for the time being. She says that she now really makes sure that she cleans the equipment before and after her workouts.
“We have to bring our own sanitizer. Maybe double mask,” she says.
The end of the mask mandate only applies for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. But most businesses say that they will rely on the honor system and won’t ask patrons if they are vaccinated.
“People could lie. People don’t care for other people’s safety. People think this is a hoax, so they don’t even care if you get vaccinated,” Gomez says.
But there are some business owners in the Garden State who are not quite ready to allow customers to go maskless just yet – one of them being Up and Out Salon in Hoboken.
“We didn’t want to jump ahead and go along with it right away. We’re going to wait it out and rethink the decision in a bit,” says manager Michelle Arriaga.
The UPS Store in Hoboken is also requiring masks – a decision that is not sitting well with some customers.
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“I provided them with my vaccine card and they refused to serve me without my mask on,” one customer said. “I said I’m just dropping something off and they tried to kick me out.”
Hoboken’s Empire Coffee is allowing customers to go maskless, but the shop is also keeping capacity limits in place, only allowing eight customers in at a time because of the size of the store.
Masks are still required in some situations like on public transportation. New Jersey students still must wear masks in schools. Gov. Murphy says that it is likely they will have to wear masks even when the new school year starts in September.