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New Jersey issues statewide order to wear face masks outdoors

Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, speaks during a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey, U.S., on Monday, April 6, 2020.

Christopher Occhicone | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued an updated executive order Wednesday requiring all residents to wear face coverings outdoors when social distancing is not practicable.

New Jersey was the first state to require face coverings indoors, Murphy said at a press briefing, adding that it was “the right call from the get-go and it has saved lives.”

“Requiring masks outdoors is a step, frankly that I hoped we would not have to take … But unfortunately we have been seeing a backslide in compliance,” he said. “The weather has gotten warmer and not surprisingly as a result, our rate of infection has similarly crept up.”

Exceptions to the rule apply to individuals who are eating and drinking at an outdoor dining establishment, those who cannot wear a face covering for medical reasons and children under the age of two years old, according to Murphy.

The governor previously issued an order on April 8 requiring customers and workers at essential businesses to wear face coverings. According to the guidance, businesses must provide masks and gloves for their employees. If a customer refuses to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons, businesses are not allowed to let them in. 

New Jersey is one of the many states that recently updated or issued a new face covering mandate as the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike nationally. These states include California, Texas, Kansas, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order effective July 3 requiring the use of face coverings in public spaces in counties with 20 or more active Covid-19 cases.

Abbott also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people.

“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another — and that means wearing a face-covering in public spaces,” he said in a press release.

While many states are now enforcing the use of face coverings in public spaces to curb the spread of the virus, each state has outlined different rules and exemptions. 

Like Texas, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine also issued an order effective July 8 requiring the use of face coverings only in counties that are designated as areas with a very high risk of exposure and spread. Currently, there are seven counties in the state that meet this health emergency level.

Some states have stated in their guidance whether face masks are required in both indoor and outdoor public spaces while others have not. States that mandate the use of masks outdoors when social distancing is not feasible include California, Delaware, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington. 

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