New Jersey's toughest indoor vaccine mandate is now in effect in the City of Newark.

You will now need to provide proof of vaccination to enter most public and private buildings.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced the vaccine mandate Dec. 27, giving businesses little time to prepare for the regulations. Baraka says he made the decision to require vaccinations in an effort to avoid having to close businesses as COVID cases spike in New Jersey's largest city.

The vaccination mandate applies to guests, visitors and customers to enter restaurants, bars, fast food restaurants, coffee shops, nightclubs, pool halls, bowling alleys, sports venues, movie theaters, gyms, dance facilities, libraries, hotel common rooms and indoor spaces in public office buildings such as cafeterias and conference rooms.

While the order requires business owners to verify vaccination status, it does not spell out how they should do it. "Covered Establishments shall create their own protocol," the order reads, and instructs a "good faith effort" to determine if the vaccination proof is legitimate.

Newark vaccine mandate
Newark vaccine mandate

For restaurants, there are exceptions to the mandate. For example, if you are placing a take-out order or picking up an order, you are not required to show proof of vaccination.

The order also exempts houses of worship, medical offices and other categories such as grocery stores, gas stations, homeless shelters and private gathering spaces. Big Box stores are also specifically exempted, Baraka says, because patrons "tend to be in motion and not standing or seated in close proximity to others for long periods of time."

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