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New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Republicans who flout Covid mandates may be barred from capitol

Callahan says State Police could ‘refuse entry’ to some lawmakers

By Joey Fox, November 29 2021 3:22 pm

In response to Republican lawmakers’ apparent plan to not comply with the New Jersey State House’s vaccine and testing mandate, Acting Superintendent of the State Police Pat Callahan said today that State Police officers may indeed end up barring uncooperative legislators from the capitol complex.

“I would have a hard time envisioning troopers handcuffing anyone, but I do think they’d have the ability to refuse entry for those men and women,” Callahan said. “It’s certainly something I would consult with the attorney general’s office on, and would certainly do that if the issue arises.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, meanwhile, implored Republicans to “stop playing politics,” noting that the availability of rapid tests at the capitol building makes the mandate extremely easy to adhere to.

“It is 20 seconds of time [to take a rapid test],” Murphy said. “Ten seconds in each nostril. So it’s just ridiculous… Let’s stop playing politics – this is going to put people’s health at risk.”

Callahan concurred, saying that “the reasonableness behind proof of vaccination and/or get tested basically says it all.”

As the New Jersey Globe reported on Friday, Republican legislators have agreed that if any of their number are blocked from entry to the capitol next week due to the policy, they will collectively boycott the voting session.

“I have no intention of complying with this unconstitutional statehouse policy,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) on the potential conflict over the mandate. “To do so would give credence to the idea that mandates and discrimination based on vaccine status is ok, and it’s not ok.”

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