New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation that ends most of his pandemic-related executive orders. Assembly Bill 5820 leaves several restrictions in place through the end of the year, including a moratorium on evictions and civil immunity for healthcare workers and facilities.
The unity measures now will expire on Sept. 1. After that, civil immunity would continue “only for individuals specifically engaged in vaccinations or testing related to COVID-19.”
Andrew Aronson, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, told McKnight’s Senior Living that he applauds the lifting of the pandemic health orders.
“As the public health emergency ends, lifting the immunity prospectively for all healthcare providers at the same time is the best approach,” Aronson said Friday. “Our healthcare providers have fought heroically against this virus, and today’s lifting of the public health emergency is a result of those efforts.”
The bill also prohibits the governor from imposing mask, social distancing and gathering requirements that exceed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines “unless a substantial increase in hospitalizations, substantially increases spot positivity or rate of transmission” necessitates a more restrictive modification.
The law leaves in place the governor’s ability to issue orders addressing “vaccination distribution, administration and management,” as well as COVID-19 testing.
Although Democratic sponsors hailed the bill, Republicans criticized the measure, saying that it leaves in place “unnecessary” mask mandates for children and gives the governor unchecked authority to spend federal relief dollars, according to a Law360 article.
Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson), a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that it “offers a reasonable and pragmatic approach to ending the health emergency.”
Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) issued a joint statement calling the move “one of the most significant steps we have taken in our recovery efforts to date.”