Gov. Phil Murphy said the state might loosen mask requirements for when fully vaccinated people have to wear face coverings outdoors, in accordance with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control.
That follows recommendations from the CDC that those who have gotten the full COVID-19 inoculation do not have to wear masks outdoors, unless they are at large events or in crowded spaces.
“We will certainly, as we always do, take the CDC guidance seriously and work with that guidance and continue to open our state up,” Murphy said during an April 27 afternoon television appearance with MSNBC.
“If you can, you don’t need to. I would expect if there is then the next layer of full vaccination, that’s another step that we’ll be able to take,” he added.
The CDC guidance includes a handful of settings where fully vaccinated people do not have to wear a mask. Outdoor activities regardless of the vaccination status are safe, the CDC said, but only among people who are alone or gathered with immediate family members.
Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors or outdoors without a mask in small groups. They do not have to wear face coverings when outdoors in small groups, even with people who haven’t had their COVID-19 shot. And they don’t need to wear masks if they’re dining outdoors with friends or family.
For vaccinated and unvaccinated people, masks should be worn whenever they’re attending a crowded outdoor event such as a sports competition, live performance or a parade. But those activities are much higher risk for those who haven’t gotten their shots, the CDC said.
And any person, regardless of whether they’ve gotten the shot, is still urged to wear a mask for any indoor activities, the CDC said. But those are still a lower risk for anyone that is fully inoculated.
“If you are fully vaccinated and want to attend a small outdoor gathering with people who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, or dine at an outdoor restaurant with friends from multiple households, the science shows if you’re vaccinated, you can do so safely unmasked,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a press briefing that day.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Health said in an email that the state agency “is reviewing the CDC’s updated recommendations.”
The loosened guidelines represent some of the latest COVID-19 restrictions that have been eased, both in New Jersey and across the nation. Connecticut is repealing most COVID-19 restrictions, except the mask mandate, while Massachusetts is scraping the mask requirement effective April 30. Last month, Murphy rolled back restrictions on indoor dining, gyms and other businesses.
Then on Monday, the governor expanded gathering limits for outdoor events and indoor catered events, such as proms and weddings. Those go into effect on May 10.
Murphy said the move was in response to improving numbers indicating this latest COVID-19 wave has begun to subside, as well as ramped up vaccination efforts.
The transmission rate of the virus – how fast it spreads – hit a two-month low in New Jersey. And daily cases have been below 2,000 for several days now.
As of April 27, the state fully vaccinated more than 2.86 million people – the goal is 4.7 million adults by the end of June.
“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we can methodically, incrementally, open up,” the governor added.