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Should I wear a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19?

Last Updated: 06/07/2021

Face masks are strongly recommended for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor settings where there is increased risk, including:

  • Crowded indoor settings
  • Indoor settings involving activities with close contact with others who may not be fully vaccinated
  • Indoor settings where the vaccine status of other individuals in the setting is unknown
  • Where an individual is immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease

In New Jersey, face masks are no longer required in most outdoor and indoor settings. Social distancing, masking, and other safety measures are still required in high-risk areas such as healthcare settings, public transportation, child care centers, correctional facilities, and homeless shelters.

In addition, businesses may continue to require face coverings for employees, customers, and guests. Businesses are not permitted to restrict the use of face masks by their staff, customers, or visitors.

The majority of State offices open to the public, including New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission locations, continue to require masking of staff and visitors.

Note: There are exceptions for face masks for children under two years old, when individuals need to briefly remove face coverings for religious reasons, and when wearing a mask would endanger one's health. For more information, refer to Executive Order No. 242.

How Face Coverings Save Lives

COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of cloth face coverings is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Wearing a face covering or mask has been shown to dramatically decrease the release of droplets from people's mouths, which can carry infectious particles. Studies have demonstrated that masks are an important barrier to transmission of respiratory viruses.

Wearing a simple cloth face covering is not a replacement for social distancing. Keep six feet between yourself and others whenever possible and avoid crowded areas. Face coverings, social distancing, staying home when you're sick, and good hand hygiene are all vital tools in the fight against COVID-19.

How To Wear A Face Covering or Mask Correctly

  • Make sure you can breathe through it
  • Your nose and mouth should be covered
  • Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask.
  • Pick a mask with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric to keep your respiratory droplets in and others' out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick.
  • To add layers, wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask against your face.
  • Wash the face covering after use

Note: Cloth face coverings are not recommended for children under 2 years, people who are incapacitated, people who have difficulty breathing, or any other person who cannot easily remove their own mask.

Source: Executive Order No. 163, https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/documents/topics/NCOV/COVID_Face_Coverings.pdf; Executive Order No. 242; Executive Order No. 243.