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Gov. Murphy Mandates Use Of Masks Outdoors In New Jersey When Social Distancing Is Not Realistic

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and bolstered by new fears about what has been happening in other states across the country, New Jersey is stepping up its requirements on wearing masks or face coverings.

During his media briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced he is signing an executive order that mandates the use of masks when individuals are outside in situations where social distancing is not practicable.

"This is absolutely vital when individuals find themselves in a crowded situation, such as when walking down a packed boardwalk or in a line that is not properly spaced apart," Murphy said.

The only exceptions to the new mandate are people eating or drinking at an outdoor dining establishment, those whose health or safety is endangered by wearing a face covering, and all children under 2 years old.

WATCH: Gov. Murphy's Daily Coronavirus Media Briefing

Murphy said Wednesday's announcement about the use of masks outdoors in certain instances only reiterates the need to wear them indoors, where the threat of the virus spreading is greater.

MOREMax Minute: No Medical Conditions Should Prevent Mask Wearing In Public

The main reason for the new outdoor directive is because the rate of transmission in the state has moved up over 1%, after being down below that number consistently for several weeks. Also contributing are numerous reports of people not wearing masks, as well as the continued explosion of cases nationwide and the fear that some of those people could end up visiting New Jersey, the governor said.

"Requiring masks outdoors is a step, frankly, that I had hoped we would not have to take and by and large New Jerseyans by the millions have been outstanding in their compliance when masking up when going outside, as was our strong recommendation, but, unfortunately, we've been seeing a backslide in compliances," Murphy said. "The weather has gotten warmer and, not surprisingly, as a result our rate of transmission has similarly crept up."


CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis went to Hoboken on Wednesday and spoke to New Jerseyans about Murphy's new executive order. They all agreed it's a must if the pandemic is to abate any time soon.

"It's everyone's role to do something about this if we really want this to end," Carol Serrano said.

"Were trying to be conscious of those around us. We don't know what we might have picked up and gotten and we don't wanna spread it if we do," Natalie Coburn added.

Murphy reminded the public that wearing a face covering is "about quite simply being sick or being healthy. It's about life and death. It's about showing others that you care about their health, especially if you have not been tested and don't know if you're an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus. It's about showing your community what side you're on in the fight against COVID-19."

He said the virus doesn't care about which political party you're a member of. Its goal is to kill and move on to the next victim.

"It does care if you wear a mask. Period. Full stop," Murphy said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CBS2 has learned local law enforcement will monitor compliance in crowded places. Gov. Murphy admitted it will be hard to enforce, but did not detail how it would be.

One idea from a resident is to, "hand out a ticket and hand out a mask at the same time."

Dr. Ronald Nahass, an epidemiologist and senior infectious disease physician for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset said, "It's really about appealing to your sense of personal responsibility," adding "If I have a mask on, I'm protecting my mouth and my nose from the hands, which could potentially transmit the virus to me. If I'm carrying the virus and I have no symptoms, using the mask acts as a barrier so it protects you. It protects you. It protects people around you."

As for the daily coronavirus data, the governor said the rate of positivity state-wide is at 3.23%, which is slightly up compared to previous weeks, but is not a red flag. There were 335 new cases on Tuesday, bringing New Jersey's overall total to 174,039.

Murphy reported 53 new deaths and said there are 935 people currently hospitalized. Of those, 175 are in the Intensive Care Unit and 142 are on ventilators.

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