New Jersey Republicans will not be rolling out the red carpet for Gov. Phil Murphy when he returns Thursday from a vacation to Costa Rica.

The governor and his family spent eight days in the Central American country. It is on the State Department's Level 3 Travel Health Notice because of a high level of COVID-19 cases in the country.

“We’re going to spend some time together as a family. Please God, we need that," Murphy told reporters before leaving for the trip.

After the governor took time from his trip to be part of President Joe Biden's COVID-19 briefing with governors from around the country, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew ripped Murphy.

"Governor Murphy defying orders, even his own, is nothing new. He has left the state of New Jersey on personal trips multiple times during the pandemic, yet continuously imposes mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and virtual school is now back on the table," Van Drew told in a statement first released to Fox News Digital.

"If Governor Murphy can travel out of the country when the State Department urges the American people to stay put, Americans should be afforded the same discretion regarding their personal health choices just like our leaders," Van Drew said.

Murphy has urged people to take the COVID-19 vaccine and booster but has not implemented any requirements. Before his vacation, Murphy repeatedly said "all options are on the table" regarding mandates and gathering restrictions because of the surge in cases.

Gov. Phil Murphy
Gov. Phil Murphy (OIT/NJ Governor's Office)
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Murphy critical of Van Drew's views and party change

There's no love lost between Van Drew and Murphy, who was critical of the 2nd Congressional District representative when he changed political parties from Democrat to Republican and later voted against the certification of the Electoral College vote in the 2020 presidential election.

"It pains me to see one of our own representatives, CongressmanJVD, cynically side with conspiracy theorists and throw his fate in with the far-right’s disproven and crackpot theories. If that’s the legacy Jeff wants for himself, then, I guess 'it is what it is,'" Murphy tweeted in January.

During his vacation, Murphy's official Twitter account has posted daily COVID-19 case numbers and about the deaths of football broadcaster John Madden, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Paterson civil rights activist Russel Grady.

More criticism from Republicans

The New Jersey Republican party also tweeted their criticism of Murphy's trip with a postcard from "Murphy's Costa-Ri-cron: where the drinks are cool but the COVID cases are hot back home."

"Even though COVID is exploding & New Jerseyans have to wait hours for a test (if they can get one at all), he was nice enough to find time to drop us this postcard," read the NJ GOP tweet. "Thanks Phil, don’t work too hard! But then again, you never have."

Rep. Jeff Van Drew
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (House Television via AP)
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Van Drew wants Fauci fired

Van Drew Thursday called for Dr. Anthony Fauci to be fired over what he considered to more bad advice offered to Biden about the change in quarantining requirements for those with COVID-19.

“The latest example of Dr. Fauci and the CDC shoving orders down the American people’s throat with no clear justification is the time spent quarantining. The CDC originally said you would not be contagious after 14 days, then it was 10 days, and now the CDC says you only have to be quarantined for five days. When will this end," Van Drew said.

He said Americans are tired of mandates and that Biden needs to surround himself with the best researchers, physicians, epidemiologists and pharmacists available.

"Dr. Fauci needs to be fired and our governors must be able to govern without interference from him or President Biden," Van Drew said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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