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

Last Updated: 04/13/2022

In New Jersey, face masks are no longer required in most outdoor and indoor settings.

The Department of Health recommends wearing a face mask whenever you have symptoms of COVID-19, tested positive, were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19, or live in a county with elevated or "high" COVID community levels.

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.

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 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.

What are the differences between masks?

While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection, layered finely woven products offer more protection, well-fitting disposable surgical masks offer even more protection, and well-fitting, high-filtration masks (respirators like N95, KN94, or KF94) offer the highest level of protection.

Double up your masks if you do not have access to a high-filtration mask. Single layer masks (bandanas, gaiters) are less effective, so wear a cloth mask with multiple layers or wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask.

Whatever product you choose, it is most important to wear a mask or respirator correctly (fit closely on the face without any gaps along the edges or around the nose) and be comfortable enough (covering your nose and mouth) so that you can keep it on when you need to.

Wearing a highly protective mask or respirator may be most important for certain higher risk situations, or by some people at increased risk for severe disease.

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.
  • Masks with exhalation valves are not recommended because they allow virus particles to escape
  • Wash cloth masks at least once per day (or as soon as they become dirty)

Note: Masks 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. 242; Executive Order No. 243;