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May 27, 2021

New Jersey relaxes COVID-19 workplace restrictions

Employees who can verify that they are fully vaccinated may no longer need to wear face masks or practice social distancing, according to the new guidelines

Government Coronavirus
NJ COVID-19 workplace guidelines Israel Andrade/via Unsplash

Employers will no longer be required by the state to accommodate work from home arrangements as much as possible, according to updated guidance.

New Jersey is easing several of its coronavirus workplace restrictions, which were implemented at the height of the pandemic, in an effort to clear the way for more employees to return to their workspaces in the near future.

Employees who can verify that they are fully vaccinated will no longer have to wear a face mask or practice social distancing, if permitted by an employer. This applies specifically to indoor workspaces that are closed to the public.

However, employers are permitted to keep mask and social distancing requirements in place among fully vaccinated workers if they so choose. Employers can neither restrict employees from wearing masks nor penalize workers who choose to wear one.

Employers will also no longer be required by the state to accommodate work from home arrangements as much as possible in order to reduce on-site staff to the fewest number needed. 

Employers who bring staff back to in-person workplaces must still follow a set of COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including notifying workers of on-site COVID-19 exposure and performing health screenings when entering the workspace.

The state's updated COVID-19 guidelines for workplaces take effect Friday, June 4, the same date as when all of New Jersey's indoor gathering limits will expire.

"With all metrics continuing to trend in the right direction, I am happy to be able to take this additional step in the return to normalcy," Gov. Phil Murphy said. "This pandemic has been extremely disruptive for employers and employees alike and this new guidance will benefit both. A vaccinated employee is a safe employee, and being able to forgo a mask at the office is just one of the many benefits to getting vaccinated against COVID-19."

Additionally, group limits in child care classes, which had been capped at no more than 15 people, have been lifted. Murphy said that lifting the capacity limit for child care classes "is an important piece of getting our economy back working for more parents."

Most of New Jersey's COVID-19 restrictions were lifted last Wednesday. The state's indoor mask mandate and six-foot social distancing requirement in all public spaces will both expire Friday.

But face coverings are still required in places such as child care centers, preschools, elementary and secondary schools, as well as summer camps. Businesses and other entities that operate indoor spaces may still require customers and employees to wear masks, too.

Social distancing still needs to be practiced in settings where masks remain required. Businesses are permitted to continue requiring social distancing if they so choose.

New Jersey has administered over 8.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and more than 4.1 million residents are fully vaccinated. The state is about 88% of the way towards its goal of having 4.7 million residents, or 70% of the eligible population, fully vaccinated by the end of June, according to its COVID-19 dashboard.

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