Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to lift the state’s controversial indoor face mask requirement before Memorial Day, according to a report by NJ.com.
The move will be announced at his regular COVID-19 press briefing on May 24. It would put New Jersey in line with guidelines rolled out earlier this month by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which say that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask indoors.
Murphy’s office declined to comment for this story.
New Jersey and Hawaii were the last two states to keep the requirement in place after the CDC announcement, drawing the ire of many within the state, including Republican lawmakers.
The order will go into effect on May 28, according to NJ.com, meaning patrons can enter businesses such as restaurants and retailers without needing a face covering for the first time in nearly 15 months.
Several large retail chains – like Target, Walmart, Starbucks and Trader Joes – said they would not require face coverings in states that lifted the ban.
Murphy had been initially resistant to lifting the mask mandate, saying that businesses and their staff should not be forced to determine who is and is not vaccinated and then police mask usage.
He warned that despite vaccination rates and weeks of drops in daily cases and hospitalizations, the state was “not out of the woods yet” in terms of the current state of the pandemic.