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Masks, social distancing mandates lifted Friday

Social distancing and masks, for the most part, are no longer required indoors, just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of the summer.

The new rules follow an honor system –fully vaccinated patrons do not have to wear a mask while indoors, but those without the vaccine still must wear them. Generally, a person is considered fully vaccinated after they’ve gotten their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shot, or their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot.

Restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, retail outlets, movie theaters and casinos can welcome back patrons at full capacity without masks or space constraints. Those businesses will still be allowed to require masks and social distancing among customers and staff, but the governor maintained that businesses that require their patrons to remove their masks before entry will be punished.

Masking will still be required for places with children, such as summer camps, pre-schools, and elementary and middle schools. They’ll be required on public transit centers including airports and train stations, in state offices such as the Motor Vehicle Commission, and in homeless shelters, hospitals and other health care settings.

“If you’re not vaccinated, we expect you to have a higher standard of care … We’re not going to put the workers in harm’s way … What we’re very clearly asking folks is for personal responsibility, if you’re not vaccinated, we ask you to do the right thing,” the governor said on May 24.

But without a vaccine requirement – a passport or some means to verify someone’s vaccination status – public health experts and labor rights groups said that many patrons will not wear the mask and simply lie when asked if they’ve gotten the vaccine.

“Sadly, I suspect there’ll be a minority of people who will do that,” the governor said.

Beginning June 4, the indoor gathering limit will be lifted. The 250-person indoor gathering limit for political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services, performances, and catered and commercial events will be lifted. And the 30% capacity for large indoor venues will be scrapped.

Private offices will no longer have to enforce masks and social distancing at their workplace.

Daniel J. Munoz
Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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