Today, New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy executed Executive Orders 107 (“EO 107”) and 108 (“EO 108”) to further combat the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Executive Orders take effect at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020.
EO 107 restricts New Jersey residents from leaving their homes, except in the following circumstances: (1) obtaining essential goods or services; (2) obtaining takeout food; (3) seeking medical attention; (4) visiting family or those they have a close personal relationship; (5) report to or performing their job; (6) engaging in outdoor activities while social distancing; (7) leaving for educational, religious or political reasons; (8) leaving because of a reasonable fear for health or safety; or (9) leaving at the direction of law enforcement. Furthermore, all gatherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations or social events are cancelled.
CLOSURE OF CERTAIN BRICK-AND-MORTAR BUSINESSES
Subject to express exceptions, EO 107 prohibits the brick-and-mortar operations of: (1) non-essential retail business; (2) restaurants, cafeterias and dining establishments; and (3) recreational and entertainment businesses. Restaurants, cafeterias and dining establishments are permitted to offer take-out and delivery services. Recreational and entertainment businesses include casinos, racetracks, gyms, indoor shopping malls, personal care services, and public libraries.
EXEMPT RETAIL BUSINESSES
EO 107 provides that the following retail businesses may continue brick-and-mortar operations: (1) grocery stores, farmer’s markets and other food stores that sell directly to consumers; (2) pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries; (3) medical supply stores; (4) gas stations; (5) convenience stores; (6) hardware stores; (7) retail functions of banks; (8) retail functions of laundromats and dry cleaners; (9) stores that principally sell children’s supplies; (10) pet stores; (11) liquor stores; (12) car dealerships and auto mechanics for repair services only; (13) retail functions of printing and office supply stores; and (14) retail functions of mail and delivery stores.
OTHER BUSINESS OPERATIONS
For all other businesses, EO 107 provides that employers must, where practicable, allow their work force to telework or work from home. If a business has employees that cannot perform their work functions from home, the business must make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue. Employees included in this exception include, but are not limited to, law enforcement, cashiers and store clerks, administrative staff, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, lab researchers, and janitorial and custodial staff.
LOCAL RESTRICTIONS INVALID
EO 108 provides that any county or municipal restrictions imposed in response to COVD-19 that conflict, or might conflict, in any way with EO 107, or which may interfere in carrying out the terms of EO 107, are invalid.
EO 107 orders that many businesses close by 9:00 p.m. today. Generally, the businesses that must remain closed are non-essential retail, entertainment, gaming, amusement, and personal care businesses. However, others businesses may continue to operate, but are required to allow employees to work from home, when possible, and otherwise reduce staff. It is only in instances where an employee’s job function cannot be completed at home that employees should be permitted to travel to work. In those cases, employers must ensure that all recommended protocols are followed, including social distancing and sanitization.
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