ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — A proposed New Jersey law would make it a crime if people refuse to wear a face mask in stores during the coronavirus crisis. Penalties would range up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
Earlier this week, state Assembly members Ralph Caputo (District 28) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (District 37) introduced a bill that gives new teeth to Gov. Phil Murphy’s order to wear masks when shopping indoors.
If passed into law, A-4453 would make it illegal for someone without a mask to enter any store that has a sign posted about mask requirements. The law would treat the crime as a petty disorderly persons offense. It would take effect immediately and would remain in effect for the duration of the state of emergency declared in Executive Order No. 103.
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
“We need to look at the facts based on what we know right now, which is that wearing a mask around other people — especially indoors — significantly reduces the spread of this deadly virus,” said Caputo, who represents Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Newark and Nutley.
“This is truly a matter of life and death which we cannot take lightly,” Caputo urged. “Although many residents have been following [Gov. Phil Murphy’s] mask mandate, those who aren’t put us all at risk.”
There needs to be some sort of penalty to drive home the point that the mandate isn’t optional, he added.
“One way or another, we’re all in this pandemic together, and must all do our part to prevent the spread of this virus,” Caputo said.
Vainieri Huttle said that masking up in stores is a “critical” step to protect business owners, staff and customers in the pandemic.
“Wearing a mask is a show of respect for the health of others around you as well as the sacrifices that have been made during this difficult time,” she said. “I believe that this legislation is an important step in ensuring that New Jersey continues on the right track towards recovery.”
Vainieri Huttle represents Alpine, Bogota, Cresskill, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Hackensack, Leonia, Northvale, Palisades Park, Rockleigh, Teaneck and Tenafly.
Here’s Patch with the original story.https://patch.com/new-jersey/bloomfield/refuse-wear-mask-store-new-jersey-may-make-it-crime?utm_content=newjersey&utm_campaign=blasts&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social