As NY and Philly announce new mandates, NJ stays the course
It almost sounded like Gov. Phil Murphy was parroting the New Jersey 101.5 slogan 'Not New York, Not Philadelphia' when he was discussing the possibility of new restrictions to curb a surge in new COVID cases and hospitalizations.
As NYC and Philadelphia take steps to curb surging infection rates, Murphy says he doesn't "see any shift of any significance" in rules for New Jersey.
Philadelphia officials announced new rules that require you to show proof of vaccination status to dine indoors at bars and restaurants or to attend indoor sporting events beginning Jan. 3.
New York has a statewide indoor mask mandate now in effect and proof of vaccination must now be provided in New York City for anyone over the age of 5 to dine indoors or take part in most indoor activities, including shows and and other entertainment events.
California has also announced a new statewide mask mandate for all public indoor locations.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Murphy was among the first governor's to announce massive shutdowns, gathering limits, mask mandates and other restrictions. Now, he has been among the slowest to act.
"We think what we have in place meets the moment," Murphy said at Monday's COVID briefing, but then quickly added "all options remain on the table", including an indoor mask mandate.
Despite speculation that a new round of mandates would be coming after last month's election, Murphy has held the current course and not announced any changes to current rules.
Murphy and State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli have instead opted to push more vaccinations and encourage people to get a booster shot.
Under legislation that ended New Jersey's public health emergency last June, Murphy cannot enact tougher mandates than are already in place, unless the state's rate of transmission rises above one and/or there is a spike in hospitalizations for COVID. The current r/t is 1.41 and hospitalizations have now topped 1,600.
For now, the most controversial mandate remains a requirement for all students and staff to wear a mask in school. A group of parents and students have filed an appeal in federal court to invalidate that requirement, but Murphy insists eliminating the mask mandate would result in more school closures.