NEW JERSY won’t require masks outdoors at summer camps for kids or staff, Murphy says

NEW JERSY won’t require masks outdoors at summer camps for kids or staff, Murphy says. Children and staff members at New Jersey summer camps won’t be required to wear masks outdoors after all as the state updated coronavirus guidance to match new federal recommendations, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

Fully vaccinated kids and staffers also won’t be mandated to wear masks indoors at camps, though unvaccinated people will still be required to wear masks with “only limited exception,” Murphy said at his latest COVID-19 briefing in Trenton.

Plus, unvaccinated kids and staffers will be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks outdoors when “participating in activities which includes sustained contact with others, or when in a crowded setting,” the governor said.

The state plans to release more details Wednesday, Murphy said.

The state had originally said masks would be required both indoors and outdoors at camps.

But on Friday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new coronavirus guidelines for camps in the U.S. as increasing vaccinations continue to led to plummeting COVID-19 numbers across the country. The agency said fully vaccinated kids and staffers don’t need to wear masks unless required by state or local regulations.

“Although fully vaccinated persons do not need to wear masks, camps can be supportive of staff or campers who choose to continue to wear a mask,” the CDC added.

Currently only children 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated in the U.S.

More than 4.2 million people who live, work, or study in the state have now been fully vaccinated at New Jersey sites. More than 283,000 first and second vaccine doses have been administered to kids between ages 12 and 17.

Monday’s announcement comes three days after Murphy signed a law ending New Jersey’s public health emergency while also allowing him to keep some powers to help oversee the state’s recovery from the pandemic the next eight months. But the law also keeps him from imposing any masking rules that are more restrictive than the CDC’s recommendations.

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Murphy last month lifted New Jersey’s mask mandates for most public places, though unvaccinated people are still strongly encouraged to keep wearing face coverings. Masks are also still required in schools and daycare, on public transit, and in healthcare settings, among other locations.

The governor has said masks continue to be required in schools because kids can’t be vaccinated yet.

Some parents and numerous Republicans have pushed Murphy, a Democrat, to unmask children in schools, daycare, and camps, arguing it doesn’t make sense that they don’t have to wear masks in stores but do have to wear them in those settings.

In New Jersey, seven children under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19 during the outbreak out of 23,370 confirmed deaths in the state. But officials have stressed that children can still pass the virus to older and more vulnerable people.

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