Murphy lifts outdoor mask mandate for New Jersey but keeps indoor mandate in place


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced an executive order Monday to lift the outdoor mask mandate but said the state’s indoor mask mandate will remain in place in public spaces.

“The majority of New Jerseyans are still unvaccinated, and keeping this mandate in place in public settings protects you, your family, essential workers, and our entire community,” Murphy, a Democrat, said on Twitter.

“All of our metrics show one thing – at this moment together, we are as good if not better than any state in America in winning this war,” the governor said in a tweet. “We still have more work to do, and we have to keep doing it together.”

The governor also announced schools will return to in-person instruction this fall and will allow Executive Order 175, which enabled remote learning, to expire at the end of the school year.

“Over the past year we have made the health of our students and school staff a top priority, and stakeholders in all of our school communities have done a commendable job of weathering this storm,” Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education, said in a news release. “Now we turn a corner, and students, educators, and parents throughout New Jersey can look forward to the full return to safe in-person instruction at the start of the 2021–2022 school year.”

Allen-McMillan added that local schools will continue to adhere to their students’ individualized education programs and home instruction needs. Murphy also said schools can opt for remote learning if there is a localized COVID-19 outbreak, but parents and guardians may not opt their students out of in-person instruction.

Additionally, effective Monday, the state is lifting its travel advisory, and travelers to the Garden State no longer need to quarantine. Still, health officials want New Jersey travelers to adhere to local health and safety protocols and follow international travel guidelines from the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“New Jersey and the nation as a whole are moving in the right direction,” Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a news release. “Increasing vaccination rates and decreasing case rates make it safer for us to travel.”

Republicans pounced on the news that the state’s indoor mask mandate will remain in place.

“It’s unbelievable that Governor Murphy is doubling-down on an anti-science mask mandate that the CDC says is no longer necessary,” state Sen. Michael Testa, R-Vineland, said in a statement.

“With the CDC clearly stating that masks serve no public health purpose, Pennsylvania, New York and many other states have already lifted restrictions or announced plans to do so this week,” Testa added. “Instead of following the science here in New Jersey, we have a governor who continues to restrict personal freedoms to cater to the irrational fears of a timid liberal constituency.”

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