Wear a mask outdoors: Murphy will order it today
New Jersey will require all resident to wear face coverings outdoors in public when social distancing is not possible, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday morning. He plans to formally announce an executive order later in the day.
Murphy, a proponent of wearing face coverings to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, called wearing them a "game changer" during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Wednesday.
"I think we were the first state in America to require them indoors. 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. "We believe the combination of social distancing, face covering, basic wash your hands with soap and water and stay away from everybody if you don't feel well and get tested is the combination of steps we continue to need to take."
The governor is expected to formally introduce the action during Wednesday's daily coronavirus briefing.
The action is necessary because of recent spikes in positive cases around the country, as well as localized increases in New Jersey, Murphy said. The governor said some of that can be explained by recent reopenings of businesses and activities — Murphy has said repeatedly he expected some increase because of that.
"We've gone through hell in New Jersey, we've lost over 13,000 people. We've brought out numbers way down, we can't go through that hell again," Murphy said.
Earlier this week, Murphy said New Jersey's estimated rate of transmission had surpassed 1.0 for the first time in 10 weeks — indicating that each person with the virus is giving it to at least one more other person. Still, New Jersey's daily deaths, hospitalizations and ventilator use have continued their substantial decline since April.
Murphy said the mandate would not be enforced by law enforcement if an individual is alone or with family.
"But if you're congregating with other folks and there's no social distancing you're at least going to get a warning if not something stronger," Murphy said.
New Jersey's existing masking requirement, for people at indoor gatherings or in businesses where social distancing is not possible, makes exceptions for those with medical issues who are unable to breathe properly with a mask, and for very young children.
Last week, neighboring Pennsylvania instituted a similar outdoor masking requirement.
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