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Murphy Lifts Indoor Mask Mandate in Time For Memorial Day Weekend

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He urged the unvaccinated to do the right thing, saying this "is not license to be a knucklehead."

An eagerly anticipated announcement from Governor Phil Murphy -- and just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

Murphy said his executive order will lift the state’s indoor mask mandate on Friday, but cautioned that it is not absolute:

“Even with this action, individual businesses and other entities which oversee indoor spaces may continue to require that their employees and customers or guests wear face masks,” he said.

Murphy said he was not giving in to political or social pressure here in light of CDC guidance issued May 13 that vaccinated people did not need to wear masks in most indoor settings.

He pointed to numbers showing continued declines in cases, hospitalizations and deaths as the reason for dropping the mandate now.

He defended the state’s decision to give the mask issue some thought.

“We did not act in a knee-jerk fashion. I do not for one minute regret our taking these extra two weeks to insure that the dramatic decreases we have begun seeing in both cases and hospitalizations would continue,” said Murphy.

He pointed to figures showing more than 4 million people in New Jersey are fully vaccinated, but stressed that the pandemic is not over, and as for those who are not vaccinated, he urged them to do the right thing.

“I must once again caution that this pandemic is not over. This virus is on the run, there is no question about it, but it is not defeated,” he said. “We cannot let up in our efforts until we win this race and end this pandemic. Lifting the mask mandate is not a license to be a knucklehead.”