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September 21, 2021

N.J. expands COVID-19 vaccine, mask mandates to day care centers

All employees at these facilities will need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 or face regular coronavirus testing

New Jersey's targeted coronavirus vaccine and mask requirements will expand to include people working in child care settings.

All full-time and part-time day care personnel in the state will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1 or face regular coronavirus testing, Gov. Phil Murphy said. This means that all child care employees have until Oct. 18 to to get their shots.

Day care staffers who do not submit their COVID-19 vaccination status by the start of November will be considered unvaccinated and need to undergo coronavirus testing at least once or twice per week.

"We know there are already many child care providers who are doing their utmost to protect their children in their care, their employees and their communities, and we thank them," Murphy said. "This order ensures everyone is abiding by the same strong standards."

All child care workers and children ages two and up, as well as visitors, must also now wear face masks while inside a day care facility as part of an effort to help protect kids who aren't eligible yet for a COVID-19 vaccine. Only children ages 12-17 are currently eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine. The new masking requirement takes effect this Friday.

Murphy said that the new mask mandate in child care centers is "the right thing to do."

"We appreciate that it may be difficult to keep very young kids in masks for the majority of the day, but we are looking for these settings to provide kids with as much support as necessary to ensure the safest possible environment," Murphy said.

The COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for New Jersey's child care workers mirrors similar policies implemented by the state over the last several months.

New Jersey's health care workers were required to be vaccinated by early September or face regular COVID-19 testing

All New Jersey school teachers and staff, as well as state employees, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 18 or undergo regular coronavirus testing. 

While New Jersey's statewide indoor mask mandate is no longer in effect, the state has still required face masks to be worn in certain settings. Those spaces include school buildings, health care and long-term care facilities and all forms of public transportation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone ages 2 and older wear a face mask when inside a child care setting.

The state's latest COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirement comes as every county in South Jersey is currently experiencing high levels of coronavirus transmission, according to the CDC

New Jersey reported 1,695 new COVID-19 infections Monday, according to the statewide coronavirus dashboard. The state's rate of COVID-19 transmission sits at 1.07.

More than 11.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in New Jersey. Over 5.7 million residents are fully vaccinated.

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