Gov. Phil Murphy announced the signing of Executive Order No. 292 at a March 4 media briefing, which lifts the COVID-19 public health emergency in addition to the statewide school and daycare mask mandate, effective March 7, the New Jersey Department of Health announced in a news release.
“The time has come to move toward normalcy,” Murphy said. “In the past two years, New Jerseyans have shown great strength, resiliency and kindness during one of the most difficult and trying times in the history of our state. The steps I am taking today have been made possible by our highly-successful vaccination efforts and the collective efforts of the people of our state.”
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said, “Conditions have improved in our state – immunity is high, cases have dropped significantly, therapeutics have improved, and testing is rapid and readily available. So, it does make sense to relax restrictions as we learn to live with the virus.” She added, “But taking masks off doesn’t mean that other strategies should be abandoned. In fact, they become more important. So, please continue to wash your hands frequently, physically distance, stay home when you’re sick and get vaccinated and boosted to protect yourselves, your families, your friends and our children.”
Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education, said, “For nearly two years, New Jersey’s school communities have persevered through countless challenges brought on by COVID-19 – always with the shared goal of protecting the health and safety of our school staff, students, and their families. While we recognize this virus has been unpredictable, we look forward to this next milestone in our road ahead.”
Executive Order No. 292 terminates the public health emergency declared in Executive Order No. 280. However, the state of emergency declared in Executive Order No. 103 will remain in place to ensure that the state continues to have necessary resources as COVID-19 is managed on an endemic level. It is common practice for states of emergency for major crises to remain in place to allow the state to receive and distribute federal funding without any unnecessary red tape or bureaucratic obstacles, as exemplified by Gov. Chris Christie’s state of emergency declaration for Superstorm Sandy, which remains in effect.
Additionally, Executive Order Numbers 111, 112, 207, 252, 253, 283, and 290 remain in full force and effect under the state of emergency except that any civil or criminal immunity related to the COVID-19 response bestowed by Executive Order No. 112 shall not be in effect. Executive Order No. 292 also extends various administrative orders, directives and waivers taken by the executive branch departments and agencies in response to the pandemic to allow for an orderly transition as COVID-19 is managed as an endemic illness.