Murphy extends public health emergency in New Jersey

Despite announcing the end of New Jersey’s controversial mask mandate at school, Gov. Phil Murphy will extend the current public health emergency for another 30 days.

The extension, in part, will allow the mask mandate to remain in place until March 7.

During his weekly COVID briefing on Monday, Murphy said, “We will extend the public health emergency to allow this mask mandate to continue and then be responsibly lifted.”

The announcement of the extension was met with frustration by many members of the legislature who were not consulted on the majority of decisions Murphy made regarding pandemic restrictions.

However, this decision does not appear to have prompted action from legislative leaders.

Neither Senate Speaker Nick Scutari nor Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have indicated they would support passing a bill that would limit Murphy’s power.

A bipartisan bill sponsored by the senses. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) and Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) would limit executive authority, now and for future governors, and give the legislature a more equal voice on pandemic and public health strategies.

Scutari told NJ.com he is open to discussing such reforms at some point in the future.

Governor Murphy also said he would consider doing the same “and see if we have the right tools at our disposal.”

Murphy is expected to approve any legislation restricting his own powers.

New Jersey’s COVID measures have fallen to near-pandemic levels over the past four weeks. On January 7, the state reported more than 30,000 new positive tests in a single day. On Monday, only 1,490 new positive tests were recorded.

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