New Jersey coronavirus update: Remote work order being lifted, office mask rules changing

NEW JERSEY (WPVI) -- Businesses in New Jersey can call back remote workers and let employees work maskless - if they are vaccinated - beginning June 4, Governor Murphy announced on Wednesday.

"There should never be any stigma against any co-worker who may be fully vaccinated but chooses just to be safe to wear a mask," Murphy said. "We are going to continue requiring state employees to mask up and to keep social distancing at state offices and work sites while we continue to transition back to normal."

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Gov. Murphy says businesses can call back remote workers starting next week

Murphy said the state is rescinding requirements to accommodate remote working arrangements and smaller on-site staff to give employers greater flexibility to bring employees back to in-person working environments.

"We encourage all employers to do the right things for their specific workplaces," he said. "While we are rescinding some requirements, that doesn't mean that we don't expect you to be flexible and to work with employees particularly those who are juggling family obligations such as childcare."

The announcement is welcomed by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

"I think we're gonna see a lot of change in the business model, but the reality and the end of the day is the majority of businesses are very excited to get their work force back," said Michele Siekerka, president of the association.

But some argue that requiring people to be fully vaccinated in order to not wear masks or social distance is the equivalent of a vaccine passport, which would pose ethical, legal and scientific challenges.

"For example, if you already had COVID, you have natural immunity, which is better than vaccine immunity. These people are still being told to get the vaccine but it doesn't make sense," said Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard.

In regards to natural immunity, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported in January after people recover from infection with a virus, the immune system retains a memory of it, but the details of the COVID-19 immune response and how long it lasts after infection have been unclear.

The CDC says you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19.

"That's because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible-although rare-that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again," the CDC says.

One Cinnaminson resident says for religious reasons, he has no plans to get the vaccine regardless of the freedom it would offer.

"For me, I'm a Christian, I'm not really going to follow stuff like if you're vaccinated, you don't have to wear masks," said Godstime Aigbotion.

The state is also eliminating the group limits in child-care classes, effective immediately.

Class sizes have been limited to 15 since they reopened in June. Masks are still required.
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