Murphy relents, lifts mask mandate for those vaccinated

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TRENTON — As Memorial Day weekend begins on Friday, May 28, New Jersey will allow fully vaccinated people to go without wearing masks indoors in public; and six-foot social-distancing requirements for stores, restaurants, gyms and other venues also will be lifted, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday, pointing to improving pandemic metrics.

However, businesses and other indoor venues may continue, if they choose, to require social distancing and masks for employees, customers or guests.

“We fully expect that many will do so initially to ensure the comfort of their customers,” the governor said, adding that businesses may not forbid customers or employees from masking up. 

Gov. Murphy said that unvaccinated people are still encouraged to social distance and wear masks, and be truthful about their vaccination status.

“Who are we to ask the retail store employee to be judge and jury on who’s vaccinated, so we are asking people to be responsible,” he said. 

Masks will continue to be required in child-care centers, youth summer camps and public, private or parochial schools, in accordance with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The governor noted that children under age 12 are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccinations: “So for this younger population, we are not there yet.” 

The governor said masks also will continue to be required in health care settings, jails, homeless shelters, and while traveling on airplanes, buses and trains and in airports, bus and train stations, 

In addition, masks will continue to be required in state offices open to the public,  such as motor vehicle control offices, and worksites such as warehouses and factories.

Also on May 28, dance floors at bars and restaurants may reopen, and customers will be allowed to order and eat or drink while standing at bars and restaurants.

Then, on Friday, June 4, the state will remove all indoor gathering limits and social distancing limits, such as for weddings, funerals, performances, catered events and commercial gatherings. Those limits are currently 50 people for private gatherings and 250 people for political activities.

On June 4, the state also will lift the 30% limit on large indoor venues with a fixed-seating capacity of 1,000 or greater, such as casinos.

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