On Friday, New Jersey will lift most COVID-19 mask restrictions. But, most businesses may be like, “WTH!”

New Jersey businesses, I’m warning you in advance not to hurt the messenger.

Yesterday was supposed to be the big day. And in many respects it was.

You see, word leaked heading into the weekend that Governor Phil Murphy was going to sign an Executive Order to allow fully vaccinated people to go without wearing masks indoors in public starting Friday, per the new CDC guidance.

And, yesterday, he delivered.


In some ways, the new Executive Order goes above and beyond the CDC telling fully vaccinated people that they can stop masking and social distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Individuals in indoor public spaces need not wear masks, regardless of their ability to maintain six feet of distance from other individuals or groups. This includes people who are not fully vaccinated, although New Jersey recommends that they do so.

Notwithstanding, private businesses may still require masks and require proof of vaccination status.

But, before your business revisits its workplace masking rules, hold up a sec. The new Executive Order provides that “all individuals shall continue to wear face coverings in indoor workplaces that are not ‘indoor public spaces,’ subject only to exceptions that have previously existed, such as when employees are at distanced workstations or in their own offices, and shall continue to maintain six feet of distance from others to the maximum extent possible, except in the circumstances described therein.” “Indoor public spaces” are those that are open to the public for purposes of sale of goods, attendance at an event or activity, or provision of services. Otherwise, EVERYONE’s masks must stay on.

But, why?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Unions maybe? Organized labor has been pushing for more workplace safety. Or, as a friend pointed out to me, this may be some reelection politics. This pending Assembly Bill would have kept the mask mandate in place through the end of the year.

Whatever the reason(s), many indoor businesses in NJ employees must wear masks and social distance for the foreseeable future.

For more on the new Executive Order, which takes effect this Friday, May 28, 2021, check out this press release.


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