This morning Governor Phil Murphy appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” where he said residents should expect a new Executive Order requiring face masks to be worn in public.
“There’s no question that face coverings are game changers,” Murphy said. “I think we’re 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 ask if you can’t socially distance, that this will be required. We believe that the combination of social distancing, face covering, basic washing your hands with soap and water, stay away from everyone if you don’t feel well, and get tested. That’s the combination of steps that we need to continue to take.”
The governor was asked about the practical forms of enforcement, given the example of walking on a busy boardwalk without a mask. “If you’re there by yourself or with your family, the answer is no, but if you’re congregating with a lot of other folks and there’s no social distancing, you could at least get a warning if not something stronger. Admittedly, 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 we’re seeing elsewhere in the country. We’ve gone through hell in New Jersey, we’ve lost over 13,000 people, we’ve brought our numbers way down, we can’t go through that hell again.”
Governor Murphy’s new expected executive order is another action taken to stem the spread of coronavirus, particularly in light of rapidly spiking cases in other states. New Jersey is also part of a regional coalition which has asked visitors from select other states, as well as local residents visiting those states demonstrating high viral transmission rates, to voluntarily quarantine for fourteen days. The Governor and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli have told people they need to “do the right thing” at past press briefings as, here again, the governor faces the difficult challenge of enforcement, previously saying that there is no constitutional authority to put up road checks and restrict the movement of out-of-staters coming in. The move also comes in light of recent increases of coronavirus in Hoboken, where residents returned from South Carolina and infected others.