Governor Signs E.O. Requiring Masks Outdoors When Unable to Social Distance

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Camden, NJ) – Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 163 yesterday, July 9, requiring individuals to wear face coverings in outdoor public spaces when it is not possible to maintain appropriate social distance from others. The order does not apply to situations in which residents are near immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners, and does not require mask wearing for individuals under two years old, or in situations where individuals cannot feasibly wear a face covering, such as when eating or drinking at outdoor dining areas.

The Order, which took effect immediately, also reiterates New Jersey’s policy of requiring face coverings in indoor spaces that are accessible to members of the public, such as retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses, areas of government buildings open to the public, and mass transit buses, trains, and stations, again with exceptions for health reasons and children under two.

“We know that the wearing of masks is our best weapon in the fight against coronavirus,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “It is imperative that we all understand that the decision to wear a mask while in public is not a political statement, it is a public health decision that directly impacts the people around you. This is a small sacrifice compared to the threat this virus poses to our community. Please, if you cannot maintain appropriate distance from others, even if you are outdoors, wear a mask or face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The Order also exempts individuals from wearing a face covering when doing so would inhibit the individual’s health. This includes when an individual is engaging in high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities, when in water, and in other situations where the presence of a mask would pose a risk to the individual’s safety.

The Order also notes that for indoor commercial spaces that are not open to members of the public, such as office buildings, those spaces must have policies that at a minimum, require individuals to wear face coverings when in prolonged proximity to others.  Childcare centers, other childcare facilities, and youth summer camps continue to be governed by Executive Order No. 149 (2020) and applicable standards issued by the Department of Health.

The Order also clarifies that for outdoor dining purposes, outdoor areas shall be defined as open air spaces that either 1) have no roof or cover, or 2) have a fixed roof or temporary or seasonal awning or cover, with at least two open sides that would comprise over 50 percent of the total wall space if the space were fully enclosed.

Lastly, the Order clarifies that practices and competitions for sports defined as “Low Risk” by the Department of Health’s “Guidance for Sports Activities” are permitted in both outdoor and indoor settings.  No-contact practices for sports defined as “High or Medium Risk” are permitted to resume in outdoor and indoor settings.  Contact practices and competitions for sports defined as “Medium Risk” are permitted to resume in outdoor settings only.  Contact practices and competitions for sports defined as “High Risk” remain prohibited in both indoor and outdoor settings.  All sporting activities are subject to the “Guidance for Sports Activities”, and such activities must comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders.