Reopening New Jersey: Outdoor masks now mandated when social distancing not possible

TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order Wednesday mandating masks or face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

The only exceptions are for individuals under 2 years of age, those eating or drinking at an outdoor dining establishment, and anyone for which wearing a mask would inhibit health or safety.

In an interview with MSNBC, Murphy said that face coverings are a game changer when it comes to battling the coronavirus.

Masks were previously required indoors and encouraged outdoors, but Murphy said the state is turning "that up a notch."

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"We have to take this step," he said. "We've gone through hell in New Jersey. We've lost over 13,000 people. We've brought our numbers down. We can't go through that hell again."

Related: Long lines, confusion as MVC reopens for licenses, registrations

The new order comes as New Jersey's COVID-19 trends head largely in the right direction, while many other states, particularly in the south and west, are seeing spikes.

New Jersey has about 174,000 positive cases, with 13,425 confirmed fatalities. There are an additional 1,854 deaths likely stemming from COVID-19, health officials have said.

Murphy said there are several outbreaks across the state that have been directly tied to COVID-19 hotspots across the country. There is a 14-day quarantine for those who travel from those hotspots.

Related: New Jersey adds 3 states to quarantine list

As of Wednesday, there are 19 states on New Jersey's quarantine list: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Individuals who are traveling to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut from impacted states for business are exempt.

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It overwhelmed the health care industry, it put millions out of work, it drowned social services in an ocean of need and threatened the food supply Americans had long since taken for granted. At the apex of the crisis and for the weeks that followed, no part of life, or even what followed life, was spared.


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