Mask warrants return to northern Jersey as COVID spreads


NEW JERSEY – 2022 is almost here, New Jersey. But as New Years Eve approaches, residents of some cities may feel a flash of déjà vu as local authorities bring back indoor mask warrants.

The goal? To slow the spread of the coronavirus, including the omicron and delta variants, officials say.

State officials are not currently requiring face masks indoors – only “recommending” that people wear them. But in recent weeks, several municipalities in North Jersey have gone further, reigniting local indoor mask mandates as cases of COVID-19 increase. Read more: Highest number of COVID cases on record in NJ

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As of Thursday, the list includes:

EASTERN ORANGE – East Orange’s mandate came into effect on December 22 and will be applied “until further notice.” It requires all persons over 3 years of age to wear a mask in any indoor public facility, and to wear one outside when it is not possible to maintain an appropriate social distance from others. The mandate includes all residents, visitors, employees and vendors operating in any establishment in the city. Read more: East Orange COVID test megasite will serve all NJ residents

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HOBOKEN – Hoboken reinstated a mask mandate for any business or public building from Wednesday, “except when actively eating or drinking.” The mandate applies to anyone over 2 years old. There are other exceptions, such as those who can be at least six feet away from everyone for an extended period. Read more: Interior mask mandate issued for Hoboken, with exceptions

MAPLE WOOD – Maplewood announced last week that the city committee had approved a mandate for people to wear masks in all indoor environments except when eating. The mandate applies to businesses as well as to public places, for anyone over 2 years old. There are exceptions to the mask mandate for those who have a medical exemption. Read more: Interior Mask Mandate Approved for Maplewood Businesses and Buildings

MONTCLAIR – Montclair launched a 30-day indoor mask warrant earlier this month. All businesses and local places open to the public should require staff and clients / visitors to wear face coverings over their noses and mouths when inside the establishment and within six other people’s feet. Exemptions include children under the age of 2, people with disabilities who cannot wear a mask, or people who eat or drink inside any establishment that serves food or drink. The mandate also does not apply to certain gatherings, including religious services and political activities, which are “constitutionally protected”. Read more: Montclair Council Approves Inner Mask Mandate, Cites Omicron Spread

MORRISTOWN – Morristown reinstated a mask warrant for all businesses and local places open to the public last week. Masks can be removed when eating or drinking inside a facility. Mayor Tim Dougherty said the move was due to a spike in new cases of COVID-19 and the emergence of the omicron variant. Read more: Mask warrant returns to Morristown amid COVID peak

NEWARK – Earlier this month, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced that Newark is bringing back its indoor face mask tenure amid a “spike in new COVID-19 cases” and “the emergence of the omicron variant “. All residents and visitors must wear a face mask at all times inside any public establishment in the city. Read more: The masks are back; Newark’s domestic tenure returns as COVID spikes

PATERSON – Earlier this week, Paterson brought back a mask warrant to all buildings owned or operated by the city. All employees, regardless of their immunization status, must wear masks at all times while indoors.

RIDGEWOOD – Ridgewood’s re-launched indoor mask mandate covers all municipal buildings, starting December 30. It applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

SOUTH ORANGE – Earlier this month, Village President Sheena Collum signed an executive order requiring an indoor mask mandate for all people, regardless of vaccination status, in all public facilities and businesses in the Township of South Orange Village. The exemptions include children under the age of 2, people with medical conditions and employees working in high temperature environments, as well as people who actively eat or drink in a restaurant.

CITY OF THE UNION – Union City brought back a citywide mask warrant, which requires anyone 2 years of age and older to wear a face covering indoors in most public facilities. Exceptions include people who actively eat or drink, or those who are socially at least six feet apart for an extended period of time, such as at a desk in an office.

Some local officials in the cities above cited the omicron variant as one of the factors behind their tenures. However, it is not known to what extent the recent increase in cases in New Jersey is due to omicron.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data tracker, the omicron variant accounted for just 0.19% of all COVID-19 cases in New Jersey in the four weeks ending December 4. The Delta variant accounted for 98.44% over the same period – by far the highest percentage.

However, some public health experts have said that the data available on the scope of omicron in New Jersey is seriously out of date, especially since it was collected before the holiday season. More recent figures from the Hackensack Meridian Health lab showed that omicron made up about 13% of all strains sequenced by the hospital chain in its Nutley lab, NorthJersey.com reported.

The CDC initially estimated that 73% of new COVID-19 cases nationwide were linked to omicron. But earlier this week, the agency revised those figures, saying that as of December 25, about 59% of all infections in the United States were caused by omicron.

Regardless of the type of variant, cases of COVID-19 continue to rise rapidly in New Jersey, officials say. As of the week ending Dec. 18, every county in the state was in “high” viral activity status, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

New Jersey hit a new record on Wednesday, with 20,483 new cases of the COVID-19 virus reported in one day and 50 new deaths.

The state’s cumulative COVID-19 count stood at 1.29 million confirmed cases as of December 29, with 26,118 confirmed deaths linked to the disease.

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