Health and Science

New Jersey issues statewide order to wear face masks outdoors

Key Points
  • The mandate only applies to situations where crowds are congregating, not if people are outdoors alone or with family members, according to Murphy.
  • Murphy previously issued an order on April 8 requiring customers and workers at essential businesses to wear face coverings.
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 on Wednesday ordered people 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 age 2.

Murphy tweet

The governor on April 8 ordered 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 nonmedical reasons, businesses are not allowed to let them in. 

New Jersey is one of several 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 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 this week requiring the use of face coverings only in counties that are designated as areas with a very high risk of exposure and spread. Seven counties in the state meet this health emergency level.

Other states that mandate masks outdoors when social distancing is not feasible include California, Delaware, Kansas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington.