New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that he will sign an executive order requiring residents and visitors to the state to wear face coverings while outdoors if they’re in a location where they can’t maintain at least six feet of separation, the latest effort to help slow the spread of coronavirus..
“They’ve been strongly recommended out-of-doors. We’re going to turn that up a notch today and say we’re going to ask you if you can’t socially distance, it’s going to be required,” Murphy said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Impact: New Jersey already requires face coverings for almost all indoor businesses, venues and public spaces, with limited exceptions. While Murphy for weeks has encouraged residents to “mask up” while outdoors as well, he’s stopped short of signing a directive making that a requirement.
People who congregate outdoors without a face covering will receive “at least a warning if not something stronger,” Murphy said.
Several other states, including California, Rhode Island and neighboring New York and Pennsylvania, already require residents to wear masks outdoors.
“Admittedly, this is harder to enforce, which is why it’s not a no-brainer, but we have to take this step, particularly given the hot spots that we’re seeing elsewhere in the country,” he added.
Background: New Jersey, once the epidemic’s epicenter, is one of a handful of states that appeared to be on its way toward recovering from the worst days of the pandemic. Elements of Murphy’s stay-at-home order, first signed on March 21, began to loosen in late April and continued to relax through June.
Recent outbreaks in states like California, Florida and Texas have complicated New Jersey’s reopening timeline, however, and flare-ups across the state have been linked to out-of-state travel. The surge in cases nationwide compelled Murphy to mandate quarantines for travelers arriving from 19 states thus far, and plans to reopen restaurants for indoor dining are indefinitely on hold.
New Jersey’s rate of transmission — which refers to the number of cases expected from each new diagnosis — climbed above 1.0 over the weekend, suggesting viral spread is accelerating.
Since the first coronavirus case was reported on March 4, New Jersey has recorded 173,878 positive tests results and 13,425 lab-confirmed deaths.