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New Jersey lifts mask mandate before Memorial Day weekend 

This Memorial Day weekend will be different from the last. Starting today, Friday May 28th, fully-vaccinated people in New Jersey will no longer be required to wear a mask in most indoor settings as mask mandate lifts, Governor Murphy announces. 

This Memorial Day weekend will be different from the last as NJ lifts mask mandate and social distancing rule for fully vaccinated individuals. (Photo credit: freepik )

 New Jersey is one of the last states to lift it’s masking mandate after the CDC announced its updated guidelines for vaccinated individuals earlier this month. During the height of the pandemic, New Jersey reported the highest per-capita death rate in the U.S. This led to some hesitation from state officials when the CDC’s mask mandate was recently lifted. 

“I do not for one minute regret our taking these extra two weeks to ensure that the dramatic decreases we have begun seeing in cases and hospitalizations continue,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said during a briefing in Trenton. 

Now, the state will begin reopening today, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. As of Friday, May 28th, masks will no longer be required indoors or outdoors for fully-vaccinated individuals. However, there are some exceptions. Masks will still be required in: 

  • State offices, such as Motor Vehicle Commission agencies
  • Worksites that are closed to the public, including warehousing and manufacturing facilities
  • Health care settings, correctional facilities and homeless shelters
  • On airplanes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation
  • In transportation hubs such as airports and stations
  • Child care centers and facilities, elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools

Individual businesses also reserve the right to enforce their own policies regarding mask wearing. 

Mask mandate

Mask mandate lifts for fully-vaccinated people, however individual businesses may still enforce their own policies regarding mask-use indoors. (Food photo created by senivpetro )

For the unvaccinated, Governor Murphy strongly encourages people to continue to wear a mask in any indoor public setting and to get vaccinated when possible. 

 


In addition to lifting the mask mandate, New Jersey is lifting the requirement for maintaining six feet of social distance in indoor and outdoor settings. This means businesses, such as restaurants, can now place tables next to each other, and customers will also no longer be required to remain seated while ordering or drinking at bars, restaurants, and clubs. 

Again, businesses and entities overseeing indoor spaces may continue to require face masks for employees, customers and guests and social distancing will continue to be required in settings where masking is required.

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Lastly, Governor Murphy announced that starting on June 4, all indoor gathering limits will be removed. 

“These steps, when all added together, are the clearest signs of our commitment to carefully and deliberately reopening our state after what has been a truly crushing almost 15 month period,” Governor Murphy said. 

Over the last two months, the state’s daily report of case counts, hospitalizations and deaths have all fallen considerably. These improvements came as vaccination rates rose throughout the state. As of May, about 4.8 million New Jersey residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 4.1 million are now fully vaccinated. These numbers are expected to grow in the coming weeks as we enter the summer.

covid-19 restrictions, mask rule

Is the end in sight? Mask rule lifts for the fully-vaccinated and COVID-19 restrictions ease 

CDC announces lift on mask rules for vaccinated individuals and states being easing COVID-19 restrictions. 

Is the end in sight? 

In the past week, new developments regarding COVID-19 restrictions have had many thinking the end might be in sight. Will we really be back to “normal” this summer? 

Following Thursday’s announcement from the CDC which deemed that fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, retailers across the country were quick to update their policies as the mask rule lifts. Companies such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Starbucks now allow fully vaccinated customers to go mask-free. 

While these new guidelines bring us one step closer to the end of this pandemic, don’t go getting rid of your masks just yet. As per the guidelines, masks may still be required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance and are still required for all forms of transportation. 

Easing COVID-19 restrictions in NJ 

In addition to the easing mask rule, many states are now in the process of phasing out other COVID-19 restrictions. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 239 which will implement the second phase of COVID-19 restriction easing. 

The easing includes the complete removal of the outdoor gathering limit; an increased indoor gathering limit; the complete removal of all percentage-based capacity limits for indoor businesses, outdoor businesses, and houses of worship; and an increased indoor large venue capacity. Additionally, the prohibition on indoor interstate youth sports competitions is being lifted.

These changes are set to take effect on Wednesday, May 19th. Additional details can be viewed at nj.gov

What can travelers expect?

As summer is on the horizon, more people are hoping to travel this year. With the newest guidelines, travel will certainly be possible for fully-vaccinated individuals as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift. 

The updated CDC guidelines for travelers now states that fully vaccinated domestic travelers need not get tested or self-quarantine before traveling. For fully vaccinated international travelers, COVID-19 testing is not necessary before leaving the U.S. unless required by the destination. Fully vaccinated travelers also do not need to self-quarantine in the United States following international travel, though international travelers arriving in the U.S. are still recommended to get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after travel regardless of vaccination status. 

However, you should still pack a mask! Because, while the CDC guidelines have lifted the mask rule for fully vaccinated individuals in many outdoor and indoor settings, masks are still required at all hubs of transportation including airports, buses, and train stations and may still be required depending on individuals local and state laws and private businesses. 

Parks and resorts like Disney and Universal are easing their mask restrictions for guests. Disney has announced that masks in outdoor areas will be optional, a relief for many travelers who struggle in the sweltering Florida heat while wearing a mask. Still, masks will be required for all indoor areas at the park, including theaters, attractions, and transportation. 

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It is expected that many other vacation resorts, hotels, and tourist attractions will be updating their policies and guidelines in the coming weeks, so travelers should keep an eye out for updates as they prepare for their summer getaways!

CDC releases new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

The CDC has released new guidelines and recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The new CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals can safely visit other vaccinated people and small groups of unvaccinated people in some circumstances. 

Covid-19 vaccine,

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

“Fully vaccinated” is defined by the CDC as those who are two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines or two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC will continue to update its guidance as more information becomes available though currently there is growing evidence that suggests people who are vaccinated do not spread Covid-19. However, scientists are still trying to understand how long vaccine protection lasts.

“The level of precautions taken should be determined by the characteristics of the unvaccinated people, who remain unprotected against Covid-19,” the guidelines state.

The new CDC guidelines state fully vaccinated people can:

  • Visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing
  • Visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single household without masks or physical distancing, if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease.
  • Skip quarantine and testing if exposed to someone who has Covid-19 but are asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms for 14 days
CDC guidelines

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

This means that vaccinated grandparents may finally feel comfortable visiting their unvaccinated grandchildren, especially if they’re local, and as long as none of the unvaccinated people in that household are at risk for severe Covid-19.

And two fully vaccinated individuals, such as you and a friend, may now finally have dinner together.

However, there are still some precautions that fully vaccinated people must take in certain scenarios. CDC guidelines state fully vaccinated people must:

  • Wear a mask and keep good physical distance around the unvaccinated who are at increased risk for severe Covid-19, or if the unvaccinated person has a household member who is at higher risk
  • Wear masks and physically distance when visiting unvaccinated people who are from multiple households.

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Additionally, fully vaccinated people should continue basic safety precautions, including: wearing a well-fitted mask and keeping physical distance in public; avoiding medium- and large-sized crowds; avoiding poorly ventilated public spaces; washing hands frequently; and getting tested for Covid-19 if they feel sick.

source: https://unsplash.com/@unitednations

“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection, and therefore potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others,” said Tami Skoff, CDC epidemiologist on the Clinical Guidelines Team of the Vaccine Task Force.

Still, it is important that vaccinated individuals continue to practice safety precautions and distancing around vulnerable individuals such as older adults, pregnant women, and immuno-compromised individuals. The guidelines also discourage vaccinated individuals from gathering with more than one unvaccinated household. 

“According to the CDC recommendations, if unvaccinated persons from more than one household are participating in a visit, then these visits should continue to happen outside and everyone regardless of vaccination status should be physically distanced and wearing well-fitted masks,” said Skoff.

Additionally, even fully vaccinated people need to be careful when traveling, said Dr. Cynthia Ogden of CDC’s Covid emergency response team, and the CDC notes that its travel recommendations have not changed. 

“While we work to vaccinate more people, preventive measures such as pre- and post-travel testing and post-travel self quarantine, along with wearing well-fitted masks, will help us prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Ogden said.

“No vaccine is perfect. A small number of people could still get Covid-19 after getting fully vaccinated and they could spread the virus to unvaccinated people. We will be closely watching the trends in cases over the next month,” she said. “Until more is known and vaccine coverage increases, some preventive measures will continue to be necessary for all people, regardless of vaccination status.”