ASBURY PARK, N.J. – New Jerseyans should feel less free than ever before heading into a long Independence Day holiday weekend.
On Thursday, Governor Phil Murphy announced that he was once again unilaterally extending his emergency powers citing the COVID-19 pandemic; a Republican-led attempt to curb his authority to do so was tabled back in June.
Murphy described his extraordinary power grab as “the authority to remain vigilant and prepared”:
I’ve extended the public health emergency in New Jersey for an additional 30 days.
These declarations, unless extended, expire after 30 days.
This means we’ll have the authority to remain vigilant and prepared to act should there be a new outbreak of #COVID19.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) July 2, 2020
While the Murphy Administration hasn’t mandated it, the CDC recently issued guidance on June 16th ahead of the July 4th holiday advising that beachgoers wear masks except for when they are in the water.
“Encourage use of cloth face coverings among staff and beach visitors. Face coverings should be worn when feasible and are most essential at times when social distancing is difficult,” the recommendations advise.
“People should not wear cloth face coverings while engaged in activities that may cause the cloth face covering to become wet, like when swimming at the beach or pool,” explained another CDC article updated June 28th. “A wet cloth face covering may make it difficult to breathe. For activities like swimming, it is particularly important to maintain physical distance from others when in the water.”
Some towns are acting on their own; the mayor of Wildwood has asked visitors and residents to voluntarily wear masks in public.
The CDC’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been widely criticized. Americans are nevertheless sucking it up for the most part.
There’s anecdotal evidence that the Governor and those who think like him haven’t lost the public. Not yet.
According to a new poll out this week from Monmouth University, “nearly two-thirds (64%) are more concerned that states are starting to lift restrictions too quickly compared with 27% who are more concerned this is happening too slowly. In early June, public concern stood at 60% too quickly and 32% too slowly.“