Gov. Murphy: New Jersey residents can look forward to having a relatively normal Thanksgiving

After urging New Jersey residents to have a scaled-down Thanksgiving celebration with only immediate family in 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy says that Thanksgiving 2021 can look a little more like normal. But he said that this is only as long as one knows their family and guests’ COVID-19 vaccination status.
Trends of relatively small increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are causing some concern for Murphy and state health officials, but the governor said that living with COVID-19 is now a way of life.
“This is never going to zero, right? This is with us,” Murphy said about the virus.
This includes Thanksgiving dinner.
“Am I worried? I’m a natural worrier when it comes to this virus,” said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
But unlike last year, Murphy and Persichilli said that there are no limits on how many friends and family can gather around the Thanksgiving table. But they said that everyone should practice common sense safety strategies.
“You know them, you know their vaccine status, have at it. Raise hell, have a great Thanksgiving,” Murphy said.
As Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf plans to relax his state's in school mask mandate in January, Murphy pointed out his own mask mandate for schools expires on Jan. 11.
“It’s hanging over our heads. It’s hanging over my head,” Murphy said.
He said that relaxing the mandate will depend on how many children older than 5 get vaccinated.
“Folks need to hear this loud and clear: The more kids vaccinated, the more people vaccinated, the more people boosted, the sooner we'll be able to pull back on X, Y, or Z,” the governor said.
But the governor can still ask the state Legislature for six-month extensions on his pandemic powers up until the middle of January.
Persichilli said that over 85% of staff at New Jersey’s K-12 schools are vaccinated against COVID-19. The highest vaccination rates are in Bergen and Somerset counties. The lowest is in Ocean County, according to the state.