NJ Shoppers Must Wear Masks: Where To Get Them, How It's Enforced

TRENTON, NJ — If you’re going shopping for food or other essential items in the coming days, you must wear a mask. That’s the newest requirement put forward by Gov. Phil Murphy as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus that has killed 1,500 New Jersey residents as of Wednesday.

A statewide stay-at-home order is in place, and residents are allowed to leave their homes only for essential tasks such as grocery shopping or to pick up medications.

The order requiring face coverings for customers was part of Murphy’s executive order on Wednesday that increased restrictions at essential retail establishments, such as grocery stores. Read more: Gov. Murphy: Masks Now Required At NJ Stores As 275 More Die

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Murphy over the weekend had urged people to wear masks whenever they go out in public. But that request was not mandatory.

Murphy said he hopes people “get asked to leave” if they’re not wearing a mask or face covering inside a store. But the Murphy administration clarified the rule, saying if somebody enters a supermarket without one, they can still access the store – espcially if there is a medical reason – only the store can limit their time and contact.

Murphy, however, suggested he will discuss the matter with his legal team, saying: “I’m on the side of, frankly, you don’t come in,” unless it’s a medical reason.

The face coverings do not have to be surgical masks or the N95 masks that are critical for health care workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has encouraged Americans to wear cloth masks or face coverings while in public.

Online retailers, including Etsy, are currently selling the cloth masks, but shipping times vary.

With masks scarce at retail stores, what can you do? Here are some guidelines and instructions to make your own. Read more: Materials And Instructions For Making Your Own Face Masks

There are numerous online tutorials for making face masks on YouTube, including ones that do not require the ability to sew.

If you have a bandana or a square of cotton cloth like a T-shirt, you can fashion a covering like the one pictured in less than 5 minutes with a couple of hair elastics or rubber bands. Fold the bandana in 4-inch-wide folds. Slip the elastics over either end, then fold the ends to the center, and tuck one side into the other.

If the elastics won’t stay on your ears (as happened to me), use a piece of string to tie between them and slip the string over the back of your head.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli on Saturday said face coverings aren’t fail-safe but they protect others if you are carrying the coronavirus and do not know you’ve been infected.

Read more: NJ Coronavirus Updates: Here’s What You Need To Know

“If you wear a mask, you’re protecting others,” Persichilli said. “If others are wearing them, they are protecting you.”

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