New Jersey Sets Plans to Lift Public Health Emergency Next Month

By: Katie Francis, Writer / Follow South Jersey Public Health Intern

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. — A little over a year ago, COVID-19 reached the United States, and New Jersey was one of the hardest hit states in the country. Now, the Public Health Emergency declared last March by Governor Phil Murphy and extended several times is on track to expire next month. He signed Executive Order No. 240 on May 14, which renewed the Public Health Emergency until the middle of June.

With this, the governor and his Administration have been working with Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin on legislation that, if finalized before the June renewal date, will allow the Public Health Emergency to expire. Public health emergencies in New Jersey last for 30 days, but Gov. Murphy has extended it many times to keep it active throughout the last 14 months.

The legislation is based on ending the Public Health Emergency, while also ensuring that the state has the tools necessary to manage the continuing threat to the public’s health, including resources for recovery and vaccination efforts. Gov. Murphy is adamant about the state’s need for resources to help the state’s COVID-19 vaccination effort.

“In order to continue on the path to normalcy, we need all available resources to continue our progress in vaccinating New Jerseyans and finally beating back this pandemic,” he said in a press release.

With the state’s COVID-19 metrics trending in the right direction, Senate President Sweeney appears to be on board with the governor’s plan.

“It’s the beginning of the end of a crisis … The worst is behind us, and now is the time to move forward to restore the quality of life for the people of New Jersey,” Sweeney said in a statement.

This news came just a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance regarding public mask and physical distancing recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Those who are fully inoculated against COVID-19 don’t need to wear masks or socially distance in most public settings, according to the updated guidance.

New Jersey lifted its outdoor mask mandate earlier this week, but it’s keeping the indoor mask mandate in place for the time being. Gov. Murphy said Monday that he expects to lift New Jersey’s indoor mask mandate in “the not-so-distant future.”

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.