State indoor mask mandate ends Friday; social distancing rules to be lifted

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday the state will lift its indoor mask mandate beginning Friday.

News 12 Staff

May 25, 2021, 9:47 AM

Updated 1,059 days ago

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Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday the state will lift its indoor mask mandate beginning Friday.
The announcement comes about a week after Murphy rejected similar mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying he wanted “more time on the clock” for people to get vaccinated.
New Jersey had been an outlier, with neighboring Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania aligning with the CDC soon after its advice came out. The state’s vaccination numbers have been climbing, with Murphy pledging to fully inoculate 70% of the population by June 30.
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Nearly half of New Jersey residents have been vaccinated.
Masks will still be required on planes and public transportation, as well as in schools, including preschool programs, elementary, and secondary schools, and state offices such as Motor Vehicle Commission centers.
“It’s a respect thing,” says Mike Minue, of Metuchen. “Put it on and respect other people. But if you don’t, I’m going to do it. It’s your choice.”
Additionally, businesses can still require people to wear a mask, including for customers and employees, but they will not be allowed to refuse someone service if they're wearing a mask or tell them to take it off. Nobody will be asked to prove vaccination as well.
“I think everybody wants to be normal, and I’m sure there will be a lot of people with and without vaccination that say, ‘OK, freedom let’s not wear the mask.’ So, it’s a tough situation for me. I have to welcome everybody,” says Annie Khan, with Brewed Awakening. 
Murphy says the decision to lift the mask mandate is based off the state's data and not political pressure.
"Listen when you have the data we've got right now, the numbers, at a certain point we got to open up, and we believe this is the right point to do that,” says  Murphy.
Murphy also said come Friday, the 6-foot social distancing rule will be lifted, dance floors will be reopened and bars can serve drinks without social distancing at the bar.
If you aren't fully vaccinated, you're still strongly encouraged to continue wearing a mask when indoors.
AP wire services helped contribute to this report.


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