Murphy noncommittal on reinstating mask mandates or making vaccines mandatory

Gov. Phil Murphy was noncommittal when asked specifically about whether he will bring back mandates for wearing masks — or implement rules where vaccinations are mandatory.

“Everything is on the table,” he said.

Murphy, speaking on Yahoo Finance on Tuesday morning, acknowledged that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering suggesting that some vaccinated people return to wearing masks and that some states, including California, are mandating state workers get vaccinated.

“Everything is on the table, I would just put it that way,” he said. “We have to have everything on the table. The virus dictates the terms here, not me or anybody else. We watch the science and the data like a hawk.”

Murphy said he did not think the state is eager to return to more restrictions.

“What’s the appetite?” he asked, and then answered. “Not much. As you can imagine, people have had had it with this pandemic.

“Overwhelmingly, in our state, the people have done the right thing, but they’re tired. They’re tired of this — and who could blame them: The mental health toll has been significant. The toll on our economy has been significant. So, we’ll do what we need to do. But in terms of appetite from the man on the street, it’s low, and who can blame them, particularly if they’re if they’re fully vaccinated, and they’ve done the right thing.”

Murphy said the state will continue to push for people to get vaccinated — and said some still have not done so for legitimate reasons, citing language barriers, fears of revealing immigration status and not having the time to do so.

The state, he said, will continue to do what it can to get more people vaccinated — including knocking on the doors, mainly in predominately Black and brown communities.

“It is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said. “We think in the hospital it is literally 99.99% likely that the folks who are in the hospital are unvaccinated.

“So, we are still out there, going door to door using our bully pulpit, using contests, whatever we can use to get to people to get them get vaccinated.”