COVID-19 shot or test proof mandate ends at NJ statehouse

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Come Monday, the next time New Jersey’s Legislature meets, the requirement to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test will be no more.

The State Capitol Joint Management Commission voted 8-0 Tuesday to rescind orders it instituted in late November requiring a negative test or vaccination proof to enter the statehouse or adjacent buildings.

The decision comes as New Jersey’s COVID-19 trends fall from highs during the holidays. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy also said Wednesday he would be ending his regular briefings on the virus, with the final one set for March 4. He said the virus is “on the run.”

The vote clears the way for state police barricades directing visitors and lawmakers to particular entrances for coronavirus screenings to be removed. It also sets the stage for Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy to deliver his budget address in person next month for the first time in two years.

The coronavirus requirement led Republicans who disagreed with the mandate to defy it during votes in December. They had initially been stopped by state police from entering the Assembly chamber but were eventually allowed to enter.

The mandate ends Friday. Masks will still be required in the building.