NJ to require masks outdoors when social distancing not possible

FILE: A person wears a protective face mask. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

NJ Gov. Phil Murphy says he will sign an executive order requiring people in the state to wear a face mask outside when social distancing is not possible due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Murphy made the announcement Wednesday during an appearance on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe.'

“There’s no question that face coverings are game-changers,” said Murphy. “I think we were the first state in America to require them indoors. 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.”


During a briefing on the pandemic later in the day, Murphy said exceptions to the executive order include while eating, people with health problems that a mask could exacerbate and children under the age of 2.

Murphy urged residents to continue to wash their hands, stay home if they are sick and get tested for COVID-19.

He did not say what the penalty would be for not wearing a mask outdoors but did say that if you are outdoors and congregating with others you must wear a mask.

"This is harder to enforce," said Murphy.

More than 13,000 residents have died from coronavirus.

The U.S. recently added about 43,000 positive COVID-19 cases to its 2.9 million total, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. The death total has surpassed 130,000.

Contrasting the novel virus to seasonal influenza,  Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says until there is a vaccine, communities’ best defense to fight it is through creating distance and wearing masks.


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