NEW JERSEY – Face coverings will be required for all students inside a school building unless doing so would impact their health, Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Previously, it was only required to wear masks in situations where social distancing was not possible, such as hallways. It was only a strong suggestion to wear masks inside.
The reason for the change, Murphy said, is increasing numbers of positive cases and transmissions throughout the state.
The state had started to ease regulations when the numbers were coming down. For example, there was at one time a transmission rate of .87. That means that if someone got sick, they were transmitting it to fewer than one person on average. Now, that figure is up to 1.48.
Part of the problem is larger indoor gatherings, he said. He specifically cited two local incidents. One was a party where a few dozen lifeguards on Long Beach Island caught the disease. The other was a party in Jackson that held more than 700 people.
Therefore, he was “retightening” the restrictions on indoor gatherings. They will now be restricted to 25 percent of capacity or 25 persons.
However, there are some gatherings that can skirt this rule. Weddings, funerals, political and religious gatherings can have 25 percent of capacity but as much as 100 people.
He also said that he was glad that rental places like AirBnB removed some listings of party houses.
Another cause for the increases were restaurants who were claiming they were only doing outside dining but just having windows open in certain areas of the restaurant.
In order to see these restrictions lessened, there would need to be a drop in cases over the course of a week.
He said that the majority of people have been following the rules, but there are a few “knuckleheads” who think the rules don’t apply to them and they are causing the regulations to last longer than they normally would.