Murphy extends public health emergency in NJ
Despite announcing an end to New Jersey's controversial mask mandate in schools, Gov. Phil Murphy will extend the current public health emergency another 30 days.
The extension, in part, will allow the mask mandate to remain in place until March 7.
"We will extend the public health emergency to allow for this mask mandate to continue, and then be responsibly lifted," Murphy said during his weekly COVID briefing on Monday.
The announcement of the extension was greeted with frustration by many members of the Legislature who have not been consulted on the majority of decisions Murphy has made about pandemic restrictions.
The move, however, does not seem to have prompted any action on the part of legislative leaders.
Neither Senate President Nick Scutari nor Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have indicated they will support bringing a bill that would curb Murphy's power to a vote.
A bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, and Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, would limit executive authority, now and for future governors, and give the Legislature a more even say in pandemic and public health policies.
Scutari told NJ.com he is open to discussing such reforms at some point in the future.
Gov. Murphy also said he would consider doing the same "and figure out if we have the right tools at our disposal."
Murphy would have to sign off on any legislation curbing his own powers.
New Jersey's COVID metrics have fallen to near pandemic lows over the last four weeks. On Jan. 7 the state reported more than 30,000 new positive tests in a single day. On Monday, just 1,490 new positive tests were recorded.