Murphy lifts COVID testing requirement for unvaccinated workers (updated)

Matthew Fazelpoor//August 15, 2022

Murphy lifts COVID testing requirement for unvaccinated workers (updated)

Matthew Fazelpoor//August 15, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Aug. 15 lifting the requirement that unvaccinated workers in school districts and child care settings as well as state contractors undergo routine COVID-19 testing.

The order, which comes on the heels of recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 guideline updates, will apply to school districts and child care settings immediately and to state contractors as of Sept. 1.

Gov. Phil Murphy

“Today’s executive order follows guidance from public health officials at the CDC regarding responsible steps states can take as we continue to adjust to the endemic reality of COVID-19,” said Murphy. “With children as young as 6-months-old now eligible for vaccines and millions of New Jerseyans vaccinated and boosted, more of our residents are safe from severe illness due to COVID-19.”

This executive order lifts the requirements that were put into place via Executive Orders 253, 264 and 271.

The governor’s office notes that Monday’s order does not prevent any of these settings from maintaining a vaccination or testing policy as they see fit going forward. Schools and child care facilities will still be required to report vaccination and testing data to the state Department of Health.

“As always, I encourage everyone to stay up-to-date on their vaccination and take other precautions as necessary to protect themselves and their loved ones from this virus,” Murphy added.

Republicans respond

Republicans, who have asked for this action, were quick to react to the executive order.

“We’ve been calling for Gov. Murphy to lift his unnecessary testing mandate for months,” state Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-40th District, wrote on Twitter. “Glad he’s finally listening. Better late than never.”

Corrado has been among the most vocal critics of the mandate, even sponsoring legislation to end it. When the CDC guidelines were updated, she called on Murphy to immediately take this action.

“Now that the CDC has changed its guidance, Gov. Murphy has absolutely no excuse to continue dragging his feet on lifting his testing mandate,” she said. “He should do it today.”

State Sen. Mike Testa, R-1st District, welcomed the executive order and does not believe it would have happened without the “persistent, sensible resistance and leadership from Republican lawmakers who pressured the governor to do the right thing.”

“It was never clear why it took so long, but educators no longer have to worry about unnecessary vaccination requirements and repetitive testing,” said Testa. “This is a victory for science and personal freedoms, and welcome news for teachers who have one less worry as they prepare to go back to school in the coming weeks.”

“The pandemic threat has evolved, and finally, the Administration’s directive has matured as well,” Testa added.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. ET Aug. 15 to include comments from Republican lawmakers.