Maplewood & South Orange to Continue Outdoor Mask Mandates for Now, Despite Shift in CDC Guidelines

by The Village Green
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The CDC announced on Tuesday that it would recommend that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks outdoors, unless they are in large crowds. In addition, people who are not vaccinated may walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household, or attend small outdoor gatherings unmasked.

However, local leaders of Maplewood and South Orange say that for now, they have no plans to change or eliminate their policies on mask wearing outdoors.

In a statement released Thursday, Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee said the township will “continue enforcing our existing masking policy in public spaces where social distancing isn’t always possible such as in our parks, business districts,  and outdoor events including outdoor markets.  Even in light of yesterday’s announcement by the CDC relaxing outdoor masking in smaller outdoor gatherings or settings and for when walking or exercising alone (or with members of your household), masking is still highly recommended in crowded outdoor settings or events,” McGehee wrote.

He continued, “Too many of our residents have yet to be vaccinated fully, we have not reached herd immunity, so we must continue adhering to the same precautions in order to turn the corner.”

McGehee told Village Green that the township’s “thoughtful actions” of the last year “have led to our effective ability to keep the pandemic manageable in our community and we plan to continue with that model until we are completely on the other side.”

South Orange Director of Emergency Management Scott Egelberg said the township would reassess its mask mandates in light of the CDC shift; however, “we also take our lead from the state, so our restrictions will likely start to loosen concurrently to their restrictions.”

More than 2.86 million people have been fully vaccinated in New Jersey as of Tuesday — about 41% of the state’s 6.9 million adult residents, according to NJ.com, which noted the state’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of the adult population by the end of June.

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