Montclair’s indoor mask mandate has been extended to March 31. 

On Tuesday, Jan. 18, the Montclair Township Council approved the extension, created on Dec. 21 and originally slated to expire on Jan. 21, “due to the spread and threat of COVID-19, particularly the mutations and variants of the virus throughout New Jersey and the Township of Montclair,” according to the resolution extending the requirement.

The Township Council, at a December meeting, had originally put the requirement in place for a single month so that officials could reassess circumstances in January. 

As of Tuesday, Montclair’s seven-day average for new cases was down to just under 56, after peaking at 143 on Jan. 4. By contrast, the seven-day daily average was between just two and five new cases for all of November.

As of Tuesday, the CDC maintained its classification of all 21 New Jersey counties as areas of high community transmission.

Gov. Phil Murphy in May lifted a statewide indoor mask mandate, but his Executive Order No. 242 allows counties and municipalities to institute their own.

“I think overall we have to remember that the state doesn't have an indoor mask mandate like New York State does, and municipalities like ours are left to devise what we think is the best approach while navigating guidance from the CDC, OSHA and the [New Jersey Department of Health], which is often not consistent,” Councilman Peter Yacobellis told Montclair Local about the township extending the mandate.

The Montclair resolution says a business or venue open to the public must require that both staff and patrons wear face coverings or face shields when indoors and within six feet of others. It does not make exceptions for businesses or entertainment venues that require proof of vaccination or recent negative coronavirus tests for entry.

Montclair Local coronavirus tracker

In extending its mandate this week, Montclair added two exceptions. A mask is no longer required for a person participating in an indoor athletic activity where a six feet distance is not achievable, but a mask is inhibitory to the activity. Performers at indoor live events such as theater, opera, symphony and choirs may remove masks while actively performing or practicing, but they should maximize physical distancing as much as practicable, Montclair’s rules say.

“It's important to me that we do our best to balance keeping commerce going in town while doing the best we can to mitigate risk from the spread of COVID,” Yacobellis said. “What I would also say is that we are now starting to see the curve start to shift down with regard to infections, and while this extension would go until the end of March, if things remain on a positive trend we could rescind this before that.”