Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued at the end of last week that it’s safe for fully vaccinated individuals to travel within the United States without any quarantine restrictions, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that the state will follow suit.

He said the Garden State will no longer require those arriving from other states to self-isolate for any period of time if they received either the Pfizer or Moderna shots, or the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two weeks prior.

Top COVID doctors, including the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have repeatedly stressed the importance of getting vaccinated because all the vaccines offer protection from severe illness, hospitalization and death.

The CDC recently announced it is safe for small groups of fully vaccinated individuals to gather together indoors, without masks. Nevertheless, state officials are stressing safety precautions still need to be taken in public by those who have completed the vaccination process.

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Some New Jerseyans are wondering why it’s necessary for the fully vaccinated to continue to wear masks, social distance and frequently wash their hands if the vaccines are so effective.

New Jersey state epidemiologist Tina Tan, during the COVID update in Trenton on Monday, said “as long as there’s SARS-CoV-2 virus circulating in the community ... no one is going to be completely protected from getting COVID-19.”

“We simply don’t know about every single population," she said. "For example, how well does the vaccine protect immuno-compromised individuals who might not be as protected?”

Murphy noted even as vaccination rates keep climbing, Garden State residents continue to die from the virus every day, more than 2,000 COVID patients remain hospitalized and the positivity rate is close to 10%.

“If you get back down to 1 or 2% positivity rates and 300 or 400 people in the hospital, then that’s a different conversation in terms of the masking and all the other stuff we have to do," he said.

About 1.8 million Garden State residents have already been fully vaccinated and the state is on track to have 70% of the adult population, 4.7 million people, vaccinated by Memorial Day.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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