Here’s what Murphy just said about outdoor masks in N.J.

Posted Apr 23, 2021

It’s been nearly 10 months since Gov. Phil Murphy ordered people in New Jersey to wear masks not just indoors but also outdoors in public when they can’t practice social distancing to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

But now that nearby Connecticut is set to lift all outdoor safety restrictions May 1 and with numbers improving here, is Murphy considering lifting the outdoor mask mandate in the Garden State?

Not yet.

“There’s a whole range of things under consideration,” Murphy told NJ Advance Media on Friday after an unrelated event in Ship Bottom. “But remember where we are on outdoor masks: You wear them when social distancing is not achievable. If it is achievable, right now you don’t need to wear them. That’s where I think we’re gonna stay for the time being.”

With New Jersey’s COVID-19 figures dropping and vaccinations increasing, Murphy said he’s set next week to outline a number of new reopening steps. He said Friday it will be “fairly significant news on what the state’s gonna look like over the next number of weeks,” though he has not provided details.

Still, Murphy has said reopening will be incremental and won‘t come in one fell swoop.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that his state will lift all outdoor restrictions May 1 and all other business restrictions May 19, except masks will continue to be required indoors in public. Officials say contracting by the virus is less likely outdoors.

The moves come as more than 60% of adults in Connecticut have been vaccinated. Lamont notes the plans could change if COVID-19 numbers get worse there, but he said people in his state have “earned the right to get back to our new normal.”

In New Jersey, about 39% of adults have been vaccinated as of Friday. The state’s goal is to reach 70% by the end of June.

Meanwhile, New Jersey’s seven-day average for new confirmed positive tests is now 2,700, down 12% from a week ago and 20% from a month ago. And there were fewer than 2,000 COVID-19 patients across the state’s hospitals for the second straight day — which Murphy called “a big deal.”

“We keep going in the right direction, we’re gonna be able to open this place up,” the governor added Friday. “Please get vaccinated. Continue to so the smart, right things. We’re gonna have a great summer on the Jersey Shore.”

During his latest coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Murphy was asked why Lamont — a fellow Democrat — is lifting restrictions more quickly when both New Jersey and Connecticut are densely populated and neighbor New York.

“We’re going to continue to open up incrementally,” Murphy said. “And if we think there’s an opportunity to be something, to do something bolder than incremental, we’ll do it. But the numbers just don’t suggest, our reality does not suggest that at the moment.”

“And so you’ll have to ask Gov. Lamont in terms of his rationale on May 19, but I know what our reality is here,” he added. “The numbers have gotten somewhat better over the past week to 10 days. They’re still not where we need them to be, but they are showing a trend that is beginning to build in the right direction.”

Republicans have repeatedly pushed Murphy to lift restrictions more swiftly.

“We need nonsensical restrictions eliminated right now and a target date — soon — for complete elimination,” state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, said Wednesday. “If things take an unexpected turn for the worse, people will understand, but right now all indications point toward victory over the virus, and soon.”

At the same time, former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Murphy in November’s governor’s race, called for Murphy to end indoor and outdoor gathering limits by May 15.

“It is past time for a new approach and bold leadership,” Ciattarelli said.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-04-24 03:29:41 -0700