On August 13, 2020, Sen. Richard Codey (D-27) introduced S2814, a bill that makes failure to wear a mask upon entering a store with posted signage during the declared state of emergency a criminal trespass offense. The Assembly companion bill, A4453, was filed on July 27, 2020, with primary sponsorship by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28).
If S2814/A4453 is passed, a person will be found to be committing a criminal violation if that person is not properly wearing a mask which, at a minimum, simultaneously covers the nose and mouth. Violations are subject to a fine of $50 all the way up to $500. S2814/A4453 would take effect immediately upon passage and expire when the state of emergency under New Jersey Executive Order 103 ends.
On September 17, bill A4453 was reported out of Assembly Appropriations with amendments. After learning that S2814 was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 22, New Jersey residents immediately logged their opposition and signed up to testify. Opposition to the measure was strong, and within 24 hours the bill was removed from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On October 29, A4453 was amended on the Assembly floor by Assemblyman Caputo. The language was expanded to include mandatory mask-wearing on “public transportation or public transportation service,” including rail passenger service, motorbus regular route service, paratransit service, motorbus charter service and ferry passenger service. The amendments also included and defined “autocab” and “transportation network service.”
With the Assembly amendments, the mask requirement will now apply to individuals over 4 years of age and those who are able to medically tolerate a face covering. Additionally, a first offense is subject to a fine of $50, and subsequent violations are $50 to $500.
Stand Up – Mandatory Masks Can Harm Individuals And Are Not Proven Effective
Officials throughout the country, including those in New Jersey, are looking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for their policy guidance on masks. The CDC has flip-flopped its position on masks several times this year. Although the agency is now recommending that everyone wear a mask in public, there is substantial scientific evidence showing that masks are harmful and a lack of evidence demonstrating they are effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
It is unethical and unconstitutional to force healthy citizens to abide by measures that can result in physical or emotional harm and that impinge on their ability to move freely throughout society without discrimination. As such, New Jersey residents need to remain vigilant. It is evident that the members of the New Jersey legislative body want to move S2814/A4453 quickly, and it could be put on the agenda to be heard at any time.
Public officials should not impose mandates to seek compliance, nor should they threaten individuals with fines to push them into compliance. Please stand up against medical tyranny by sending New Jersey lawmakers a pre-drafted email and tweet urging them to vote no on S2814/A4453 if it comes before them. When you’re finished, please share this campaign with your friends, family and neighbors. Remind them that constitutional rights don’t stop being important during times of emergency; they become more important.