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 theyâ€™re in a location where they canâ€™t maintain at least six feet of separation, the latest effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus..
â€œThey’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,â€ Murphy said during an appearance on MSNBCâ€™s â€œMorning Joe.â€
Later Wednesday, during his coronavirus briefing in Trenton, Murphy stressed that wearing a face covering â€œis not about politics.”
“This virus doesn’t care about what political party you belong to. It frankly just wants to kill you and move on to the next victim,” he said.
Murphy also said during his briefing that restaurants and bars with fixed roofs that can open 50 percent of their total wall space will be considered outdoor areas due to air flow and can offer some limited dining.
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 â€œmask upâ€ while outdoors as well, heâ€™s stopped short of signing a directive making that a requirement.
People who congregate outdoors without a face covering will receive â€œat least a warning if not something stronger,â€ Murphy said.
Several other states, including California, Rhode Island and neighboring New York and Pennsylvania, already require residents to wear masks outdoors.
â€œAdmittedly, 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,â€ he added.
Background: New Jersey, once the epidemicâ€™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 Murphyâ€™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 Jerseyâ€™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 Jerseyâ€™s rate of transmission â€”Â which refers to the number of cases expected from each new diagnosis â€”Â has climbed to 1.10, suggesting viral spread is accelerating, Murphy said at his briefing.
â€œThis is why we are taking the steps today to require everyone to wear masks and face coverings when outside,â€ the governor said.
Also during the briefing, Murphy announced 335 newly-confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 53 additional deaths. Since the first coronavirus case was reported on March 4, New Jersey has recorded 174,039 positive tests results as well as 13,476 lab-confirmed and 1,947 probable deaths.
Carly Sitrin contributed to this report.