In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Saturday, March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order that takes effect at 9:00 p.m. The order prohibits social gatherings and contains a “remain home” directive absent proscribed needs, like obtaining food, seeking medical services, visiting family, attending religious services, engaging in outdoor recreation while social distancing, or reporting to or performing your job. Although the order specifically permits New Jersey residents to leave their homes for work, the order limits the operations of certain New Jersey businesses as follows:
All businesses and non-profits
Wherever practical, all business and non-profits in the State are required to accommodate their workforce with telework or work-from-home arrangements. If employees cannot perform their functions remotely, then the business or non-profit is encouraged to make “best efforts” to reduce staff on-site to the minimum necessary to ensure that “essential operations” continue. Examples of those who must be physically present to perform their duties include, but are not limited to: law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, information technology maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and “certain administrative staff.”
The order also excludes certain named industries/public services, including medical and health care services, law enforcement, and the operation of newspapers, television, radio and other media services.
The brick-and-mortar premises of non-essential retail business must close to the public. Online and telephonic deliveries, however, remain permissible. Essential retail businesses may remain open during their normal business hours, but must provide pickup services outside or adjacent to their stores, wherever practical, for orders placed online or by phone, and abide by social distancing practices, like keeping customers six feet apart and frequent use of sanitizing products on common surfaces. Essential retail businesses are limited to:
- Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other food stores, including convenience stores;
- Pharmacies and alternate treatment centers that dispense medical marijuana;
- Medical supply stores;
- Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
- Retail functions of banks and other financial institutions, gas stations, laundromats, dry cleaners, printing and office supply shops, mail and delivery stores;
- Hardware and home improvement stores;
- Pet stores;
- Liquor stores;
- Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years old; and
- Car dealerships, but only to provide auto maintenance and repair services, and auto mechanics.
Bars and dining establishments
All restaurants, cafeterias, food courts, and bars are permitted to maintain their normal business hours, but are limited to offering only food delivery or take-out services in accordance with their existing liquor license. The on-premises consumption of alcohol is prohibited and any alcoholic beverages must be sold in their original containers.
Recreational and entertainment businesses
All recreational and entertainment businesses, including, for example, libraries, gyms, fitness centers, movie theatres, concert venues, amusement parks, zoos, arcades, bowling alleys, the indoor portions of retail shopping malls, the in-person operations of casinos and racetracks, cosmetic and personal care providers (e.g. salons and spas), and public and private social clubs, must close to the public for as long as the order remains in effect.
The State will publish additional information about COVID-19 and its impact on businesses at https://cv.business.nj.gov. We will update you as new changes in the law emerge.