The Public Health Emergency in New Jersey signed in March 2020 is over. The state Legislature passed on Thursday a plan that would end New Jersey’s public health emergency over COVID-19 while allowing Gov. Phil Murphy‘s administration to retain some powers to keep responding to the waning pandemic the next eight months.
As reported by nj.com, the proposal was approved largely along party lines in both Democratic-controlled chambers, 21-16 in the state Senate and 44-28 in the Assembly, one day after the latest version was introduced. Only two Democrats voted no.
Murphy helped negotiate the plan with the Legislature’s Democratic leaders announced he will sign the bill into law Friday, as well as an order officially ending the public health emergency. The order is happening one year and three months after the Garden State reported its first positive coronavirus test March 4, 2020.
“New Jerseyans have proven their resilience over the past 15 months as our state has fought the COVID-19 pandemic,” Murphy said in a joint statement with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex. “Today, we take a substantial step toward restoring normalcy to our state and to the lives of those who call New Jersey home.”
Leaders are confident
The announcement of the public health emergency closing comes as the Garden State has seen its coronavirus numbers continue to fall dramatically as more people get vaccinated. State leaders said they are “confident that now is the right time to take this action,” adding it will allow New Jersey to “move closer to normal than at any time since March 2020.”
Gov. Murphy has eased several COVID-19 restrictions as numbers have improved in recent months. Last month, he lifted the state’s mask and social distancing mandates in most public places and removed social distancing limits for businesses. On Friday, the state will eliminate all indoor gathering limits and make masks optional for vaccinated people in private workplaces.