Search for COVID-19 and Reopening Information Here

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

Last Updated: 06/07/2021

In New Jersey, face masks are no longer required in most outdoor settings and indoor settings, however based on CDC guidance, unvaccinated individuals should continue wearing a face covering in public spaces - especially indoors - to protect yourself and others.

Face masks are still required for all individuals on public transportation, health care facilities, including nursing homes and office-based health care settings, child care centers, K-12 schools, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities, which remain subject to existing requirements and/or recommendations.

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.

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.

At indoor worksites closed to the public, employers may allow employees who can verify they are fully vaccinated to not wear a face mask and social distance. For more information, see Executive Order No. 243.

Note: Employees and visitors at State offices and worksites will continue to be required to wear masks and social distance until further notice.

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.