New Jersey coronavirus update: NJ lifts outdoor mask mandate for all, while indoor rules remain

Coronavirus Update New Jersey

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Tuesday, May 18, 2021
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Lucy Yang has the latest reopening and mask policy announcements in New Jersey.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made a number of reopening announcements Monday during his daily COVID-19 briefing.

First, the state made the decision to lift the outdoor mask mandate for all people in public spaces, while indoor rules remain in place.

"Our indoor mask mandate remains in place in public spaces," Murphy said. "The majority of New Jerseyans are still unvaccinated, and keeping this mandate in place in public settings protects you, your family, essential workers, and our entire community."

Murphy said it's unfair to put the burden on business owners and frontline employees to police every patron.

"So here's what it boils down to, we are going to be able to take off our masks indoors in the not so distant future, as more and more people complete their vaccination," he said. "We just can't yet because we need to know unequivocally that doing so will not lead to a backslide in our progress. We have this virus on the run."

Murphy said he remains "uncomfortable" with vaccination passports because not enough of the minority community is vaccinated.

On Friday, Murphy extended the public health emergency for what he says "should be the final time."

He says the state is working toward a legislative solution that will allow this emergency to expire next month while maintaining they need to fight the pandemic.

RELATED: Gov. Cuomo announces New York to adopt CDC mask guidelines for fully vaccinated

Murphy also announced all students will be back for full-time and in-person instruction for the 2021-22 school year.

Full-time remote learning option for families will be removed, while summer school programs will not be impacted, the governor said.

"As the number of vaccinated New Jerseyans continues to increase and with transmission reaching the lowest rate since the outset of the pandemic, we are finally reaching a place where schools are able to fully and safely reopen for in-person learning. Returning to the classroom will be critical in getting students back on the path to academic success and I applaud Governor Murphy's decision to fully reopen our schools for the coming school year."

Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) responded to Murphy's schools announcement.

"Remote and virtual learning became essential tools for maintaining student academic progress while keeping our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks largely to the dedication and creativity of our educators who were forced to adapt to this new normal nearly overnight," Lampitt said. "While our schools went above and beyond to keep students engaged through remote instruction, students and educators alike agree that there is no substitute for traditional in-person classroom instruction."

And effective Monday, travelers to New Jersey are no longer required to quarantine as the travel advisory has been lifted.

"Continue to follow local health and safety protocols when traveling," Murphy said. "Adhere to international travel guidance from the state department and CDC."

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