One workers' union has applauded the governor's decision to keep mask-wearing rules in place for all, even amid the CDC guidance relaxing expectations for those vaccinated against COVID-19.

United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents 52,000 frontline workers in state, has said the CDC's new indoor mask guidance would force retail staff to play “vaccination police” to determine which customers should still be wearing face coverings.

The new round of mask wearing struggles arrived as New Jersey is closing in on its COVID vaccination goal.

Get our free mobile app

"New Jersey frontline grocery workers have put their lives on the line daily to make sure families have the food they need during this pandemic. Governor Murphy is showing the leadership New Jersey workers and families need by putting public health and safety first and keeping the state's mask mandate in place," UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a written statement.

"While vaccinations are helping us slow the spread of COVID, the pandemic is far from over and we cannot let our guard down," he continued.

New Jersey has become the largest state to reach 70% of its adults receiving at least one dose of COVID-9 vaccine, according to the White House COVID data director via Twitter on Saturday.

If those recipients follow through on second doses for either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, then the state would reach its goal of 70% of the adult population being fully vaccinated by sometime in June.

On Saturday, the CDC also updated its recommendations that schools continue mask wearing and social distancing as COVID-19 prevention strategies as the ongoing school year wraps up.

As of Sunday, there were 895 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across the state, at its lowest level since late October.

COVID-19 restrictions in the state are poised to ease on Wednesday, including no more limit on outdoor gatherings and the removal of all percentage-based capacity limits for businesses and houses of worship.

The directive signed by Gov. Phil Murphy also allows an increased indoor gathering limit and indoor large venue capacity.

On Friday, Murphy expanded on the decision to not yet remove the state's mask-wearing requirements for indoor public places.

"But we’ve come much too far to backslide now. So we're keeping our indoor mask mandate in place in public settings and, as we approach our vaccination target in the coming weeks, we expect to be able to lift it soon," the governor said in a thread on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the CDC director made the media rounds on Sunday morning and said the updated guidance was not a response to any political pressures.

“I’m delivering the science as the science is delivered to the medical journals. And it evolved," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on FOX News Sunday. “I deliver it as soon as I can when we have that information available.”

Under the new guidelines released last week, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated people should continue wearing masks, while those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have been advised they can go maskless outside and in most indoor settings, with no concern for social distancing.

The guidance still calls for masks among all in crowded indoor settings including buses, airplanes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.

(Includes material Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.)

Inspiring Images of NJ Medical Professionals Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine