NJ to drop indoor masks before Memorial Day, report says
TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy is set to make a major announcement on Monday and NJ.com is reporting that he will lift the state's indoor mask mandate in time for the holiday weekend.
New Jersey was one of just a few states whose governors chose not to adapt to the latest CDC recommendations that allow fully vaccinated people to congregate indoors.
Murphy last week lifted the state's outdoor masking requirement for all people but was reluctant to end the indoor requirement because it would be difficult for businesses to determine who is vaccinated.
Despite the rate of transmission and hospitalizations dropping to the lowest levels in months, Murphy said he also feared the state backsliding if restrictions were lifted too soon.
During New Jersey 101.5's Thursday night "Summer of '21" Town Hall, Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra said he and other mayors had met with Murphy, who told them that an important announcement would be made Monday that would affect the shore's tourism economy.
Murphy has faced criticism for being reluctant to follow the CDC's latest guidelines. The Legislature also is in the midst of crafting legislation that could allow Murphy to govern without the use of a monthly emergency declaration, which the governor said he was willing to let lapse in June.
On Friday state Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Bergen, introduced legislation that would supersede Murphy’s executive orders and allow vaccinated individuals to unmask indoors.
"The science doesn’t change state by state, regardless of Gov. Murphy’s feelings," Corrado said. “If it’s safe for a vaccinated person to enter a store or office unmasked in New York or Pennsylvania, it’s safe in New Jersey too. At this point, the governor just looks silly."
State Sen. Mike Doherty, R-Warren, called Murphy's existing masking decision "ridiculous."
"We've been doing this for a year, ignoring the constitution ... and now we see legislation moving through the Assembly to basically give Gov. Murphy permanent power to act as a king here in the state of New Jersey," Doherty told New Jersey 101.5 on Friday.
A vote on the legislation that Murphy said would end the public emergency was put off on Thursday. Murphy had reached an agreement with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney to let the emergency expire while keeping 14 executive orders and rules on masking and social distancing through Jan. 1, 2022.
Doherty believes that voters who realized what the bill meant called legislators to voice their opposition helped force the postponement.
"The voters are contacting legislators and saying that we do not want Gov. Murphy to have this power forever," Doherty said.