Gov. Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order No. 242, lifting significant COVID-19 restrictions and moving forward with additional reopening steps.
According to a press release from the Governor’s office, during the last two weeks, key COVID-19 benchmarks have been achieved across New Jersey. These benchmarks include a dramatic increase in vaccinations, and significant decreases in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, spot positivity rates and rates of transmission, solidifying the foundation for the state’s reopening steps.
Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, individuals who are not fully vaccinated – defined as two weeks after receiving the second shot of a two-dose vaccination or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccination – are strongly encouraged to continue masking and social distancing, according to the press release.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, my administration has been guided by science, data and facts to put New Jersey on the road to recovery with the public health and safety of all New Jerseyans as our highest priority,” Murphy was quoted as saying in the press release.
“Together, we have made tremendous progress in crushing this virus and the last two weeks have shown significant decreases in key areas of our data.
“These data points, coupled with a dramatic increase in our vaccination efforts resulting in over 4.7 million New Jerseyans with their first shot, allow us to lift major restrictions and move forward with our most significant reopening steps to date,” he said.
The following changes will go into effect on June 4:
• Removing the general indoor gathering limit, which is currently at 50 people;
• Removing the indoor gathering limit for political gatherings, weddings, funerals, memorial services, performances and other catered and commercial events, which is currently at 250 people;
• Removing the 30% capacity limitation for indoor large venues with a fixed-seating capacity over 1,000.
On May 26, Murphy issued Executive Order No. 243, which takes effect on June 4 and rescinds the requirement in Executive Order No. 107 that businesses and nonprofit organizations accommodate telework arrangements for their workforce to the maximum extent practicable and reduce their on-site staff to the minimal number necessary for their operations, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.
Employers bringing employees back to a physical worksite must continue to follow all applicable portions of Executive Order No. 192, including notifying employees of on-site exposure and performing health screenings of employees entering the worksite.
The order further permits employers at indoor worksites that are closed to the public to allow employees who can verify they are vaccinated the ability to forego wearing a mask and social distancing, according to the press release.
Employers retain the ability to issue more restrictive policies on masking and social distancing. Employers will not be permitted to restrict individuals from wearing a mask and will not be permitted to penalize or retaliate against individuals who choose to wear a mask.
The following changes related to COVID-19 restrictions went into effect on May 28:
• The mask mandate in indoor public spaces was lifted;
• Businesses and entities overseeing indoor spaces continue to have the ability to require masking for employees, customers and/or guests;
• Per CDC guidance, masks will continue to be required in healthcare settings, including long-term care facilities and office-based settings; correctional facilities; homeless shelters; and on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation; as well as at transportation hubs such as airports and stations;
• Additionally, also per CDC guidance, child care centers and facilities, youth summer camps, and public, private and parochial preschool program premises and elementary and secondary schools, including charter schools and renaissance schools, are not affected by this announcement and continue to be governed by existing requirements;
• Masks will continue to be required in public-facing state offices, such as Motor Vehicle Commission agencies;
• The 6-foot social distancing requirement was lifted in businesses, including retail stores, personal care services, gyms, recreational and entertainment businesses, and casinos, and indoor gatherings, including religious services, political activities, weddings, funerals, memorial services, commercial gatherings, catered events, sports competitions and performances;
• Businesses and entities overseeing indoor spaces can continue to require social distancing should they choose;
• The prohibition on the use of dance floors at bars and restaurants was lifted. The prohibition on ordering and eating/drinking while standing at bars and restaurants was also lifted.