New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on a cable talk show Wednesday morning that he will “turn up a notch” the state’s mask-wearing rules and require them to be worn outdoors in certain circumstances.
Murphy hinted at such a rule over the weekend while calling for a nationwide mask policy to combat the spread of coronavirus, but said directly on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” that he would order them to be worn outdoors. Murphy hosts a coronavirus news conference every afternoon and is expected to make an announcement then. Typically, copies of executive orders codifying the verbal announcement are sent to the press later in the day.
“There’s no question that face coverings are game-changers … I think we were the first state in America to require them indoors,” Murphy said. “They’ve been strongly recommended out-of-doors. We’re gonna turn that up a notch today and say, We’re gonna ask you: ‘If you can’t socially distance, it’s gonna be required.'”
Murphy admitted an outdoor mask order would be “harder to enforce” than the current policy, which requires masks to be worn inside businesses. Like his other recent orders stopping restaurants from reopening indoor dining and restrictions placed on eating and drinking in casinos, Murphy cited an uptick in other cases – not New Jersey, which has continually seen virus metrics drop – under the reasoning that policies that were too light in those other states spurred the rash of cases. One metric, the transmission rate of coronavirus for those already infected, grew slightly to 1 from 0.7 previously in New Jersey.
He was asked by one of the show’s hosts if a person could face being issued a ticket by walking without a mask on one of the state’s famed boardwalks.
“If you’re there by yourself or with your family, the answer is no,” he replied. “But if you’re congregating with a lot of other folks and there’s no social distancing, you’re gonna at least get a warning, if not something stronger.”
It is unknown how the new mandate will affect beaches, boating, outdoor dining or other activities. But the statement does indicate the order will be enforced with monetary fines and summonses issued by police.
Earlier this week, the coalition of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut officials added three more states to a list of those where people must quarantine themselves for 14-days after visiting, bringing the total number of states on the list to 19. The newest three states includes New Jersey’s neighbor, Delaware.
Though the regulations will likely be published later today, Murphy said on the show that masks would be required outdoors where social distancing isn’t possible, generally interpreted to mean when six feet of distance is not available between one’s self and another person.