Cashier  with COVID mask

What do you do when a worker isn't wearing a required face covering at the restaurant or you observe lax social distancing at a retailer? And who's enforcing the rules?

That's on the mind of many as New Jersey battles the spread of COVID-19. Some, when seeing a shopper without a mask, will tell that person to cover up.

Last Wednesday, a reporter at the state's daily COVID-19 briefing asked: "Who's monitoring barbershops, store and restaurants as they reopen to make sure they're following all the necessary precautions to keep customers safe?"

Camden County weekly

The weekly total of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Camden County has fallen since peaking in the first week of May.

Responding to the question about who's watching, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said: "Primarily local health."

"You know, I think that the individuals in New Jersey have been so compliant over time, and even with the quarantine order, we're just relying on people to take individual responsibility. But we do rely on our local health departments. I can tell you, the local health officers, we have calls with them every day, we have calls with our 21 county links agencies. They're up to the task, but they're stressed, they're stressed."

When asked about lax social distancing and use of masks at bars, Gov. Phil Murphy last Thursday said "if people don't behave and do the right thing" the state runs "the risk of this thing coming back at us."

Burlington County weekly

The weekly total of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Burlington County peaked at the beginning of May, bumped up in late May but the trend has been down or fairly flat.

Caryelle Lasher, assistant public health coordinator at the Camden County Department of Health & Human Services, told last week that the department works with local law enforcement to make sure the rules are heeded.

However, she noted, the public is essential in enforcement.

New State Cases

The number of daily new cases in NJ has plunged since March and April — progress Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly said was the result of residents at first staying at home and then observing precautions such as social distancing and wearing face coverings.

Speak with your money, she advised, and walk out of a business that isn't observing the rules.

We are responsible for our health and the health of our community, Lasher said.

  • If you spot an apparent violation of COVID-19 rules in Camden County, you can report it to the health department at (800) 999-9045.
  • Burlington County health officials could not be reached by last week. The county website lists the Health Department phone as (609) 265-5548.
  • The state has an "Executive Order Violation Reporting Form" on the state COVID-19 website, inviting the public to complete the form "if you believe an employer, organization or entity is violating any Executive Order." Complaints may be submitted anonymously, but that makes an investigation more difficult, according to the website.
State violation reporting form