The Princeton Office of Emergency Management and Mayor Mark Freda have declared a state of emergency due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the municipality. Face masks will be required in public indoor spaces.
On Jan. 10, the Princeton Health Department reported its highest new COVID-19 case numbers ever, with 287 positive cases for the previous seven days and 568 for the previous 14 days.
“Princeton’s record level of COVID-19 cases, combined with the colder weather that has driven people indoors, the spike in the demand for testing and increase in hospitalizations, has prompted us to take these appropriate steps,” said Michael Yeh, Princeton’s Director of Emergency Services.
Beginning at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 13, face coverings will be required in restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, dance studios, recreation facilities, retail stores, cafes, supermarkets, convenience stores, places of worship, commercial establishments, salons, barbershops, banks, healthcare facilities, hotels, and government buildings and facilities. South Brunswick Township issued a similar mandate more than a week ago.
As part of the mask mandate, employees and patrons of businesses in Princeton must wear a face mask at all times except when actively eating or drinking, when socially distanced at least six feet apart from all others for an extended period of time, and when performing for an audience or worship service. People with a medical condition that precludes the wearing of face coverings and children under the age of three are exempt from the requirement. Establishments will be required to post signage notifying patrons of the requirement.
“Wearing masks, especially in indoor settings, is known to be an effective way of combating the spread of COVID-19 and its variants,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser. “We need to reduce the number of new cases locally and thus, reduce the impact of COVID-19 on area hospitals and testing sites.”
The order will remain in effect until Jan. 31, unless modified or extended by further order.