Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order (pdf) that lifts the mandate requiring all school districts and contractors to make sure their workers have either received the COVID-19 vaccine or get regular testing, coming days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed its COVID-19 guidance that differentiated unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals.
“Today’s executive order follows guidance from public health officials at the CDC regarding responsible steps states can take as we continue to adjust to the endemic reality of COVID-19,” Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement. He noted that he encourages people to “stay up-to-date on their vaccination and take other precautions.”
The move comes just a few weeks before the school year begins in most municipalities. The change goes into effect for school workers immediately, and will apply to state contractors on Sept. 1, according to the governor’s office.
New Jersey state health care and prison workers will still be required to be vaccinated and have at least one booster dose, however. School districts can individually mandate that workers or contractors be vaccinated or require routine testing, as Murphy’s Aug. 15 order only applies to such policies at the statewide level.
In a sweeping reversal of guidance last week, the CDC no longer recommends the six-foot social distancing policy and quarantining for people who test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms, and also removed recommendations to mandate testing for staff and students at schools nationwide.
In addition, people who are unvaccinated no longer need to quarantine after exposure to the virus, according to the agency, which is the same recommendation for people who are fully vaccinated.
As COVID-19 vaccine mandates went into effect across New Jersey last year, numerous protests took place across the state.
“I’m here because, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you should be very frightened that the government can allow a forced medical procedure done to your body. Whether it be a vaccine or another drug, we need to push back on this right now. … This is medical tyranny,” one resident told The Epoch Times last year during a protest.
Murphy was reelected last year in New Jersey—a reliably Democratic-leaning state—by narrowly defeating former state Rep. Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican who had proposed ending the state’s vaccine mandates.