By Adam Khan ('23)
After ten long months, the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, had declared the mask mandate within indoor spaces to be officially removed on Friday, May 28. With the decline of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey in the last month, with a report showing cases averaging less than 500 a day, governor Murphy took the step to lift restrictions of social distancing and masks indoors, such as in gyms, casinos, stores, etc. New Jersey was the first state in the United States to implement an indoor mask mandate in April 2020. In Middlesex alone, average cases have been around 40 a day, an all-time low compared to the months prior.
Nevertheless, conditions are still going to be recommended for those who have not taken the vaccination shot, and masks will be mandatory in certain areas. Governor Murphy had stated in a tweet, “Masks will continue to be required: In health care settings, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters On airplanes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation [and] in transportation hubs such as airports and stations.” For people under the age of 12, governor Murphy is keeping mask mandates in place at summer camps, daycares, preschools, elementary schools, and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools.
New Jersey was one of the few remaining states to keep in place a mask mandate indoors for people who had taken the COVID vaccine. Bars and restaurants were amongst the main groups to suffer from these restrictions, as it had caused an annoyance to the constant reminders employees had to give towards customers not adhering to the proper rules in place. More than 4.08 million people in New Jersey are fully vaccinated against the virus, as the state inches closer to Murphy's goal of 4.7 million people fully vaccinated by the end of June. Recently, capacity limits for indoor dining, houses of worship, retail businesses, gyms, salons, amusement parks, pools, performances, and other catered events have been lifted. The new mask mandate and social distance lift serve as a way to slowly bring society back as to what it was prior to the virus.
Ali Gharabey, an employee at Sam’s Chicken and Pizza said, “Overall I have not seen much change with the lift of the mask mandate because most customers did not obey the law in the first place and it would be a karate effect to our business if we required masks to enter. We would’ve lost customers and revenue. But I think it's a good thing that the restrictions are lifted since working with masks for prolonged periods of time can be a burden.”
As for those who have been vaccinated, it is said to still adhere to wearing masks for the added protection. It takes time for the vaccine to kick in. The vaccines also do not provide 100% protection, and those who have been vaccinated might be asymptomatic spreaders. These added etiquettes have been in place in order to protect those with compromised immune systems and those who can’t be vaccinated.