One hour ago Gov. Phil Murphy reinstated a Public Health Emergency “to ensure that the State is able to respond to the continued threat of COVID-19 and the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.” Executive Orders 280 and 281 extend the Public Health Emergency last issued in August 2021 because, said Murphy, “COVID-19 remains a significant threat to our State and we must commit every resource available to beating back the wave caused by the Omicron variant.”
Murphy’s first choice to extend the mask mandate was passage of legislation that would extend his emergency powers. Yesterday the State Legislature declined to act which is why he resorted to declaring a Public Health Emergency, which supercedes legislative action.
The Executive Orders allow the state to “extend various regulatory actions taken by the departments in response to COVID-19.” These actions include extending “existing orders requiring masking in school and daycare settings.”
The EO’s will expire after 30 days, unless Murphy renews them. In a statement he said, “While we hope to return to a state of normalcy as soon as possible, the step I am taking today is a commonsense measure that will protect the safety and well-being of all New Jersey residents while allowing state government to respond to the continuing threat that COVID-19 poses to our daily lives.”
In a video statement he made several references to K-12 schools: “Even today, the vast majority of our schools are open…Our children are back on playgrounds, back in the gym, and back on the ice. And the vaccines mean we have the tools necessary to finally put this virus behind us …The tools required to maintain our best-in-class testing infrastructure and vaccine distribution … The tools necessary to keep our kids safe in and out of school … In fact, in our day-to-day life, this step won’t have any new impact at all.”
For the video message, click here.
For a copy of Executive Order No. 280, click here.
For a copy of Executive Order No. 281, click here.
[Editor’s Note: Not all masks are the same. Here’s a handy graphic from the Wall Street Journal comparing the efficacy of cloth masks, surgical masks and N95 (K95’s come in a close second). For more information, see here.]
(Photo courtesy of InsiderNJ)