New Jersey Homeland Security officials are warning the public about an internet scheme that’s causing confusion about the requirement to wear face masks when entering supermarkets and stores.

Jared Maples, the director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said a variety of phony face mask exemption cards are being offered online. The claim is if you have any type of disability, you can get the card and you will not need to wear a mask. But the card is completely fake.

“It purports to be from the Department of Justice ... and tied to an agency they refer to as Freedom to Breathe Agency. Of course, the Freedom to Breathe Agency, there’s no such thing,” he said.

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The governor’s executive order requiring face coverings when entering indoor stores in New Jersey specifies if someone is unable to wear a face covering for a medical or psychological reason, an accommodation needs to be made for the individual.

Maples said some individuals apparently are trying to create COVID-19 confusion, and this is but the latest example of that.

“There has been a lot of disinformation, misinformation and rumors out there that are only causing distress and issues amongst our citizens and communities,” he said. “Call them yahoos, knuckleheads, any of the term of the day — I think it’s largely that.”

“We really do view all of this information as a problem against what our efforts are to counteract and combat this crisis and get us through as a state together.”

He explained the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is getting involved because “it’s going to cause an issue obviously if somebody whips this card out. It could cause a physical confrontation or worse.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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