By: Danielle Rapsas
As of May 17, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy has lifted several restrictions for COVID-19 as per the CDC guidelines. Many more people in New Jersey are becoming partially or fully vaccinated. This has caused the infection rates, hospitalization rates, and death rates to greatly decrease. The New Jersey Governor has signed several Executive Orders eliminating social distancing guidelines and safety precautions for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Under Executive Order Number 241, Governor Phil Murphy has eliminated the mask requirements in outdoor public spaces. He explained his choice in a press conference on May 12th, telling the people of New Jersey that “outdoor environments pose a lesser risk of transmission of the virus than indoor settings” and that he intends“to be able to safely lift the indoor mask requirement soon.” There are limitations under the Executive Order. For instance, “outdoor public areas” do not include child care centers, youth camps, elementary schools, charter schools, and preschool programs. This a step towards a normal life most people have been eager to get back to. The mandates and regulations will continue to be lifted as the distribution of vaccines continues and the transmission rate continues to be low.
In addition to signing Executive Orders, he also rescinded Executive Order 175, which allowed students to be remote for schooling purposes. Executive Order 175 was signed in March of 2020. In the fall, for the 2021-2022 school year, Governor Murphy has officially announced that schools will be required to provide full-time instruction that is in-person. Currently, James Caldwell High School is doing part-time in person, part-time remote, and fully remote options. However, the seniors are able to go in-person if they choose. This will change next school year, and remote learning will still be allowed if there is a COVID outbreak or other emergency. If these buildings are open for full-time instruction, attending will be mandatory and students will no longer be fully remote. This is a large change, yet another step towards normalcy.
Governor Murphy has also officially stated that New Jersey residents are no longer asked to quarantine after traveling out of state. His decision was influenced by the declining cases across the country and he feels that it is no longer necessary. For international travel, air passengers still must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before reentering the United States from a foreign country. Travelers should refer to the updated guidelines of the CDC for quarantine updates and regulations.
Overall, Governor Phil Murphy’s decisions to ease back on COVID-19 restrictions are a direct result of the mass increase of vaccinations in New Jersey. Vaccinating the population has resulted in the transmission rate, hospital rate, and death rate greatly decreasing. Therefore, New Jersey can take some crucial steps towards normalcy, which is what many residents are eager to get back to. As the severity of COVID-19 diminishes, so do the guidelines from the CDC and regulations from Governor Murphy.