Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat who has imposed some of the nation’s most stringent pandemic-related mandates, will no longer require students and school employees to wear masks, signaling a deliberate shift toward treating COVID-19 as a part of daily life.
Murphy, the vice chairman of the National Governors Association, said on Sunday (Feb. 6) that he would officially announce the elimination of the mandate on Monday (Feb. 7) afternoon.
The new policy will take effect the second week of March, two years after New York and New Jersey became early epicenters of COVID-19.
The move follows a decision last month by the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, to rescind his state’s school mask mandate. The Democratic governors of New York and Connecticut also said last week that they were re-evaluating school mask mandates that are soon set to expire.
NJ lawmaker wants a complete ban on all vaccine requirements
Some New Jersey concert venues, restaurants, breweries and other locations now require proof of vaccination to enter the facility.
One Garden State lawmaker is pushing a plan to ban this kind of requirement, or any kind of vaccine passport completely.
State Sen. Edward Durr, R-Gloucester, has introduced legislation, S-831 that prohibits a person or any kind of entity from requesting or requiring personal health information pertaining to any individual.
The lawmaker, who ousted former State Senate President Steve Sweeney, said whether you want to be vaccinated against COVID is a personal choice.
“Clearly you are being discriminated against because of your health status when you’re told you can’t enter a building because you haven’t got the vaccine,” he said.
Durr said his bill is sort of the flip side of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
“HIPAA works where agencies aren’t allowed to give out your information. This prevents an agency from asking. It’s basically a privacy bill,” he said.
None of my business, he says
“I’m about personal choice. This isn’t any different than if somebody wants to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, do damage to their liver or their lungs, that is a personal choice that does not affect me,” he said.
He also said during the recent omicron surge we learned the vaccine does not prevent you from testing positive or transmitting the virus.
According to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can lower your risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines can also help prevent serious illness and death.”
Durr said he doesn’t have a personal issue with Phil Murphy when it comes to COVID rules and regulations but “I feel that the governor is either following bad advice or getting bad advice — one way or the other things need to be put back in the people’s hands.”
He added he expects lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to support the measure because getting a vaccine is a personal choice and denying someone their basic rights because of that choice should not be allowed.
“It’s a form of discrimination and I don’t think anybody can approve of discrimination,” Durr said.
The bill prohibits entities from discriminating in the provision of goods, services, or other benefits against a person who declines to provide personal health information.
The restrictions established under Durr’s bill do not apply to a health care professional directly or indirectly providing physical or mental health care services or when federal law expressly authorizes the information to be requested or required.