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 vaccine card

Everything you need to know about your COVID-19 vaccine card

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, providing proof of vaccination will likely be required by venues, establishments, and travel services going forward. Here’s what you need to know about your COVID-19 vaccine card. 

COVID-19 vaccine card

COVID-19 vaccine card, the new “passport.” (Image credit: Governor Jim Justice, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons)

COVID-19 vaccine card: The new “passport” 

Many are beginning to call the COVID-19 vaccine cards vaccination “passports” as many venues and services are now requiring proof of vaccination for access and admittance to large gatherings. 

In New York, as the state reopens large venues and catered events at reduced capacity, proof of vaccination or recent negative test results will be required. Additionally, events with more than 100 people, such as weddings or parties, will also require proof of vaccination. 

With COVID-19 vaccine cards set to become another essential document, it’s important you keep it safe. 

What’s on the vaccine card and how to keep it safe? 

The COVID-19 vaccine card is issued to you upon your first vaccination and updated after your second dose. The card will typically contain the vaccine manufacturer, the dose numbers and the date and location each was administered. 

To keep the cards safe, many people have begun laminating them. Companies such as Staples, Office Depot, and OfficeMax are now offering free laminating services to those who are looking to laminate their vaccine card. Staples has provided the offer code 81450, and this offer currently does not have an end date. For Office Depot and OfficeMax, customers can use the offer code 52516714 through July 25.

While the vaccine card is an important document, officials have stated that it does not need to be on a person at all times, and should be kept safe like other important documents like your passport and social security card. Though replacing a lost or damaged vaccine card will be much easier than replacing other essential documents. 

COVID-19 vaccine card

COVID-19 vaccine cards should be kept safe like other essential documents. (Image credit: Ministry of Health, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you were vaccinated at a pharmacy your card can be easily replaced by returning to where you were vaccinated and requesting a new card. The pharmacy will then print out a new card from your records. 

Vaccinations are also tracked by state health departments, so if you have trouble retrieving a new card you can reach out to your state’s agency to get a replacement. 

Additionally, digital document options and apps are rapidly becoming available which will hopefully make sharing vaccination proof and status much quicker and hassle-free. 

New York is already ahead of the game as the first state to introduce a digital tool that allows people to easily show that they have either tested negative or been vaccinated, to gain entry into some events and venues. 

You might be interested: CDC releases new guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals

Until more states catch up, be sure to keep your card safe and make backups by taking a photo of your card, emailing the photo to yourself, or saving the photo somewhere secure.

Additional perks that come with your card 

In addition to the health benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, a number of companies and businesses are now offering perks as incentives for people to go out and get vaccinated. 

krispy kreme donut

Krispy Kreme is offering one free glazed doughnut per day for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. (Image credit: Willis Lam, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Flashing your proof of vaccine card will get you: 

  • one free glazed doughnut per day from Krispy Kreme
  • 10-cent beers at Cleveland’s Market Garden Brewery
  • free 44-ounce popcorn at Cleveland Cinemas
  • $5 in free arcade tokens at Up-Down, a Midwestern chain of bars featuring vintage arcade games
  • free or discounted rides from Uber for seniors, essential workers and others in countries across North America, Europe and Asia to help them get to vaccination centers 
  • free yogurt from Chobani at some vaccination sites 

And many more! So be sure to take a look at what your local businesses and companies may be offering after you have been vaccinated and put your COVID-19 vaccine card to good use.

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.


“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.”