Murphy may make masks mandatory

Indoor masks may once again become a requirement if Gov. Philip D. Murphy issues a new statewide mandate. However, it’s not immediately clear whether he’ll do so, though there are numerous published reports indicating he will sometime soon, perhaps even as early as this week.

As New Jersey’s hospitalization rate for COVID-19 continues to rise because of the so-called Delta variant, there’s a belief among political pundits he may have no choice but to reinstitute the mandate.

That potential move has some locals happy — and others, not so pleased.

Craig Thorne is a resident of Belleville, and he says he’s glad the governor is considering the mask mandate — the 52-year-old says he wears masks indoors already and never stopped wearing them, even when they became optional.

“I never stopped wearing a mask inside restaurants, stores,” Thorne said. “I took the vaccine myself, but there is no way I am taking a chance of getting this. I have seen too many people that got this illness. Do you see what happens to a lot of people when they do get it? It’s serious, man. It is killing people. I’m 52 and I got a lot of life left. I don’t want this stupid virus killing me or the people I love for that matter.”

Thorne says his entire family wear masks inside public locations and depending on where they are, they also mask up outdoors, especially when there are large crowds about.

“We went to a fair recently and not too many people had masks on,” he said. “So we put ours on. Look, there’s nothing to lose if you wear one. I don’t mind when people don’t — it’s for them to choose. But I guess if the leaders think we should wear them inside, it’s the better option.”

Elizabeth Rok, a 33-year-old from Woodside, Queens, was visiting her mother who lives in Kearny. She’s not so thrilled with the thought of having to wear a mask when she’s at mom’s and has to go to supermarkets or other indoor stops like the pharmacy.

“What the (heck) was the point of getting the vaccine?” she asked as she prepared to pick up her mother’s prescription at the local chemist. “Why do we have to have mandates? Can we not just trust that people know how to make the right decisions for themselves without the government having a say-so all the time? It’s ridiculous. Just ridiculous.”

Owen Alter, who was shopping at the same store as Rok, had mixed feelings about mask mandates.

“Government doctors know better than the average Joe does,” Alter said. “I don’t think the governor would take the decision to force people to put masks on indoors lightly and without consulting with the experts about the facts first. I do understand, still, how some could be ticked about this happening.

“A lot of people don’t like being told what to do. I get that part.”

Be sure to check www.theobserver.com for updates to this evolving story.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.