Some U.S. governors defend their mask policy changes to ‘get back to normal.’

The governors of Maryland and New Jersey defended their moves to ease Covid restrictions, saying on Sunday that falling coronavirus cases in their states justified a change even as new cases and deaths still remain fairly high in some regions of the United States.

“As best we can tell right now this thing is going from pandemic to endemic, and we feel it is the responsible step to take” to allow local school districts and municipalities to make their own decisions, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He is one of several Democratic governors who announced plans to lift statewide mask mandates last week, whether they applied to schools or in general, as the United States begins to emerge from the Omicron surge.

His optimistic tone echoed that of Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican governor, who has called on his state’s Board of Education to lift its school mask mandate. Mr. Hogan removed Maryland’s state masking requirement last May, but the schools are governed independently. “I think it’s safe enough for our kids to just try to get back to normal,” Mr. Hogan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The move by several states to lift restrictions comes as a new CBS poll found that a majority of Americans still support mask mandates, including in schools, but that many are exhausted and frustrated by a pandemic that is grinding into its third year.

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