Most of Phil Murphy’s pandemic executive orders are officially dead, but some continue to linger

TRENTON, NJ – July 4th was Independence Day. It was a celebration of the independence of Americans from England in 1776. This year, for many New Jerseyans, it also meant independence and freedom, officially from their Governor, Philip Dunton Murphy.

Murphy, for the past sixteen months, has held an authoritarian chokehold on the residents and businesses in New Jersey and as of yesterday, that chokehold has been officially released…on paper anyway. The Governor’s pandemic executive powers have been given up, but Murphy made sure that his Democrat-led legislature extended his powers through a bill, A5820 that would afford him emergency powers through the end of 2021.

The bill specifies, “Provides for termination of public health emergency declared by Governor to address COVID-19 pandemic, except certain executive orders, directives, and powers will remain in effect temporarily.”

Last week, Murphy highlighted several aspects of legislation allowing for the termination of the Public Health Emergency effective as of July 4. On June 4, 2021, Governor Murphy signed A5820 enabling the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency that had been in place since March 9, 2020. Immediately following the signing of the legislation, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 244 (2021), ending the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Under the legislation, the majority of executive orders issued that relied on the existence of the Public Health Emergency expire as of July 4, 2021, with exceptions specified in the legislation.

Because Executive Order No. 192 (2020) is not specified in the legislation as continuing beyond July 4, 2021, masking, social distancing, and other health and safety protocols originally set forth in Executive Order No. 192 (2020) will no longer be mandatory across businesses and facilities, regardless if they are open to the public or not. Though these protocols are no longer required by the State, employers, and entities overseeing worksites and other facilities are permitted to craft more restrictive policies that require masking and social distancing, and which continue the implementation of health and safety protocols.

The pandemic restrictions and mandates continue to affect transportation and state offices under Murphy’s control.

Per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Order, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Travelers are not required to wear a mask in outdoor areas of a conveyance. Masking requirements also remain in effect in certain state-regulated settings, including child care facilities, camps, long-term care facilities, other healthcare settings, homeless shelters, and prisons. These masking requirements, which are consistent with CDC guidance, are included in Executive Order No. 242 (2021), which remains in effect under Section 1(14) of P.L.2021, c.103.

The majority of State offices open to the public, including New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission locations, continue to require masking of staff and visitors. Individuals should review setting-specific requirements in advance of arrival. 

Murphy made sure his Democrat legislators gave him a loophole to return to face mask mandates. If the rate of transmission goes above one, Murphy’s executive authority will trigger.

” The most recent executive order containing general coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mitigation measures regarding face coverings, social distancing, and gatherings prior to the effective date of this act, and this executive order shall not be more restrictive than the recommendations provided in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing and face coverings in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, unless a substantial increase in hospitalizations, substantially increased spot positivity, or rate of transmission above 1 necessitates a modification that would be more restrictive,” the bill reads.

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