A week after being able to go maskless while shopping or exercising in gyms, COVID-19 vaccinated workers who can verify their shot status can forgo masks and social distancing at private workplaces starting next Friday, June 4.

The pandemic requirement for employers to accommodate remote working arrangements also would be ending, under directives outlined by Gov. Phil Murphy at Wednesday's state briefing.

State employees still would be required to follow masking and social distancing protocols as those worksites transition back to normal, Murphy added.

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Effective immediately, the group limits in childcare classes – which are currently capped at 15 – also would be returned to their normal regulated limits, the governor continued, calling it "an important piece of getting our economy back working for more parents."

Murphy said the "significant tweak" to workplace guidance was a response to the "reasonable ask" from a number of employers, that the state re-evaluate its continued strict mandate.

As for checking on the vaccination status of workers to determine the mask-free eligibility, state officials said a private office or warehouse setting allowed for a "known population" compared to say a retail store or grocery store, where members of the public come and go.

“These are positives steps in the right direction," New Jersey Business & Industry Association President and CEO Michele Siekerka said in a written response on Wednesday, "bringing much needed clarity for businesses as our economy fully reopens."

“Providing employers the flexibility to allow vaccinated employees to forego masking and distancing in business and office settings is appropriate, as was recognized by CDC. Treating them any different than public facing businesses only caused confusion, especially when employers in closed office-like settings can have better control of their work environment, as evidenced through their safety protocols over the better part of the past year" she continued.

On Wednesday afternoon, there were 4.13 million fully vaccinated people in the state, while more than 4.83 million had received at least one vaccine dose, according to state data.

There also were 641 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide, while the daily percent positivity was at 2.79% and the rate of transmission (Rt) was at 0.75.

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