While the CDC released new guidance this month saying fully vaccinated people can go without masks in most situations, outdoors and indoors, New Jersey had kept its indoor mask-wearing mandate for everyone, vaccinated or not.
Murphy acknowledged that the other states aligning with CDC guidance influenced New Jersey's timetable.
"We did not act in a knee-jerk fashion, I do not for one minute regret our taking these extra two weeks," Murphy said.
Per CDC guidance, masks will continue to be required in health care settings, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters. They will also be required on buses, trains and other forms of public transportation and in transit hubs like airports and stations.
Murphy said masks will also be required in public-facing state offices, such as the MVC, and worksites that are closed to the public, including warehousing and manufacturing facilities.
Also on Friday, New Jersey will lift the requirement for maintaining 6 feet of social distancing in indoor and outdoor settings. Murphy says every business can continue to require social distancing as they choose.
Prohibitions will also be lifted May 28 on dance floors at bars and restaurants and ordering and eating/drinking while standing at bars and restaurants.
Additionally, one week later, on Friday June 4, New Jersey will remove all indoor gathering limits and lift the 30% limit on large indoor venues with a fixed seating capacity of 1,000 or greater.
This means venues such as MetLife Stadium can go to full capacity. Jets and Giants fans will be able to pack the house and the teams put out a joint statement Monday to welcome back their fanbase and said they were thrilled.
"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 said. "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, including new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, spot positivity rates, and rates of transmission. 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."
This new guidance however could make things more complicated for businesses.
"We're going to stay masked as employees just to make sure everyone feels safe and comfortable," said Elias Riginos, Bistro at Haddonfield manager. "For the inside dining, we're going to ask customers to stay masked until everything gets figured out a little bit more. We don't want to be the ones who are really policing who's vaccinated, who's not vaccinated."
Down the street, Ylvia Asal is the owner of Anatolia Art and Craft Studio. She teaches workshops and sells the jewelry and art that she makes.
She says for her art classes she'd be OK going without masks because she can ask for proof of vaccination.
But for shoppers who pop into her store, she'll still require masks.
"Customers just one time, it's a little tricky and a little scary, I feel, because I don't know who they are," Asal said.
Others say lifting mask requirements is a big and much-needed step forward.
"Let businesses start to succeed again, and just let people enjoy their life again," said Steve Wilkinson of Magnolia.
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