New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy Will Not Lift Mask Mandate: ‘I Don’t Want to Get Burned’

New Jersey Gov, Phil Murphy encourages residents to continue wearing face masks while in public during a coronavirus daily news briefing at the War Memorial building in Trenton, N.J., Friday, June 19, 2020. (Tariq Zehawi/The Record via AP, Pool)
Tariq Zehawi/The Record via AP, Pool

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) will not lift the statewide mask mandate, despite recent federal guidance, due to fear of getting “burned” down the road.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that fully vaccinated individuals “can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” Currently, one of those exceptions is New Jersey, where the governor is in no rush to lift the statewide mask mandate.

“I don’t want to get burned. I don’t want to go back,” Murphy said during Monday’s briefing. “We’re the only state in America that has not gone back once and I don’t want to start now.”

“I can’t speak for our neighbors; they’ve been great partners, but on this one we feel quite strongly,” he said — a likely reference to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who announced that the state will adopt the federal guidelines beginning Wednesday.

“We have to reopen smart. We have to reopen with a cautious eye, but we have to get back to life,” Cuomo said Monday. “Effective this Wednesday, we’re going to adopt the CDC’s new guidance and regulations on masks and social distancing for vaccinated people.”

Speaking to CNN on Monday, Murphy said he is not necessarily against the federal guidance, but believes the Garden State needs more time.

“We’re just not ready yet. We’ve been clobbered not once, but twice. We’ve lost over 26,000 people,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“We know the virus is more lethal indoors, and you’re asking somebody who’s at the hardware store working there or in a retail or a grocery store to make the judgment on who’s vaccinated and who’s not. We’re not there yet. We’re close,” he continued, estimating that they are “within a matter of weeks of getting to a better place.”

“Our density usually helps us, not in a pandemic. We want to make sure we get this right,” he added.

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