New Jersey's toughest vaccination and mask mandate has been lifted.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka will no longer require businesses to verify vaccination status of their customers and has also lifted the city's indoor mask mandate.

"Because of the cooperation of our community in our efforts to continue our fight against COVID-19, we are seeing a downward trend in cases, " Baraka said in a statement. "That has, in turn, enabled us to remove vaccination and mask restrictions.”

Baraka announced the vax and mask mandates on Dec. 22 as omicron cases were surging.

Newark is lifting the proof of vaccination mandate, and will no longer require persons to wear face masks while indoors in public places. Businesses have the discretion to require patrons and employees to wear face masks while in their establishment. In addition, it is strongly recommended that buildings housing seniors/and or the disabled require the wearing of face masks in public and common areas, including, but not limited to elevators, hallways, stairways. Masks are still required in common areas of all government buildings. - News Release, City of Newark

Newark, under Baraka, has been one of the most aggressive municipalities in New Jersey in terms of COVID mitigation and prevention measures. Baraka has signed more than 36 executive orders since the pandemic began more than two years ago.

The city was among the first to require all municipal workers to show proof of vaccination status to keep their jobs.

While lifting the mandates, Baraka also cautioned restrictions could return if the infection rate rises.

"We still need to remain vigilant," he said. "Continue to wear your masks when appropriate and get vaccinated, to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”

Despite the mayor lifting the mask mandate for the city, Newark's school kids will still have to mask up to attend class.

Newark schools officials have announced the continuation of the school mask mandate for students and staff, even after the statewide mask mandate is lifted by Gov. Phil Murphy on March 7.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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Best coffee shops & cafes near NJ beaches

When it comes to food, New Jersey is known for many things such as pizza and pork roll. Don't count us out when it comes to coffee.

With all the hustle and bustle involved in the average New Jersey resident's day, coffee is essential. It doesn't matter whether you're living in the cities of North Jersey or the vacation spots at the shore.

In fact, as the former owner of two Jersey shore coffee houses, Coffee Dot Comedy in Sea Isle City and the Daily Grind in Ocean Grove, I know firsthand how much people at the Jersey shore love their coffee.

With respect to that, I asked my social media following where the best coffee houses at the Jersey Shore were, especially since my two places no longer exist.

Below is what they came up with. (And see this other article for their coffee shop and cafe recommendations for Central Jersey.)