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Signs show NJ statehouse shot, test mandate still in effect

·2 min read
New Jersey Assembly member Brian Bergen, left, stands with fellow GOP Assembly member Erik Peterson, right, who speaks and gestures toward New Jersey State troopers blocking GOP lawmakers from entering the Assembly chamber because they did not show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test, Thursday Dec. 2, 2021, in Trenton, N.J. The lawmakers decried the mandate, saying it was unconstitutional, though the troopers ultimately let the some of the legislators who declined to show their documents enter the chamber. It's unclear why. A message seeking an explanation was left with the state police. (AP Photo/Mike Catalini) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey statehouse requirement for visitors to show proof of COVID-19 or a negative test is still in effect after Republican lawmakers defied it ahead of a voting session Thursday.

That's according to signage posted around entryways to the statehouse complex Friday as well as outside committee rooms.

“All visitors to the statehouse complex must have the following: A valid state-issued ID, proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. If you are not vaccinated then you must provide the following instead: a negative COVID-19 test,” the poster boards said.

It remains unclear, though, how the order will be enforced.

State troopers on Thursday permitted GOP lawmakers to enter the Assembly chamber without showing the required documentation.

The mandate comes from a resolution set by a commission that manages the statehouse and a rule set by the Assembly speaker and Senate president, according to signs posted around the complex.

A state trooper stationed at an entryway said Friday the requirement was still in effect, but unlike Thursday when the statehouse bustled with activity, hallways were mostly quiet and no hearings or votes were scheduled.

The disorderly scene Thursday unfolded as Republicans protested legislative leadership's vaccination mandate, calling it unconstitutional.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said he was outraged by the circumstance and called the episode a “colossal failure” of security on Thursday. Assembly hearings are set to be held remotely next week, according to Coughlin's spokesperson Kevin McArdle.

Republicans, who sued to stop the requirements, claimed legal victory after an appellate division court permitted their challenge of the requirement to go forward. The judge's order does not address the underlying arguments and stops short of a temporary injunction that would suspend the mandate to show vaccination or provide a negative test result.

The judge set a possible hearing date of Dec. 13.

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