As the Garden State continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 122 on April 8, 2020, imposing additional restrictions on businesses permitted to continue operating.  The Order takes effect at 8 p.m. on April 10, 2020 and expands on Governor Murphy’s earlier Stay at Home Order requiring the closure of non-essential retail businesses.  The Order imposes requirements on the operations of essential businesses, requires all employers to adopt policies pertaining to potential exposures in the workplace, and requires that owners of buildings where essential businesses operate implement cleaning protocols.

Under the Order, essential retail businesses (as defined in Executive Order 107) will be required to:

  • Limit the number of customers in their stores to no more than 50 percent of their approved capacity.
  • Provide special shopping hours for high-risk individuals.
  • Erect physical barriers between customers and employees (such as cashiers and baggers) where practicable or otherwise maintain six feet of distance.
  • Require proper infection control etiquette.
  • Provide employees with break time for handwashing throughout the day.
  • Arrange for contactless pay, pickup, or delivery options (accounting wherever possible for populations that do not have internet access).
  • Provide sanitation materials (hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes) to staff and customers.
  • Regularly sanitize high-touch areas.
  • Post conspicuous signs alerting staff and customers of the requirement to maintain six feet of distance.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in checkout lines.
  • Require that customers and employees over the age of two wear face coverings (unless the person cannot because of a medical reason) and require employees to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods.
    • Importantly, the employer must provide face coverings and gloves to employees at the employer’s expense.

Warehouse, manufacturing, and essential construction businesses will be required to:

  • Require workers and visitors to wear face coverings and workers to wear gloves.
    • The employer must supply the face coverings and gloves to employees at the employer’s expense.
  • Adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.
  • Limit worksite meetings and workgroups to groups of fewer than 10 people.
  • Stagger work start and stop times, break times, and lunch times.
  • Restrict the number of individuals who can access common areas, restrooms, and breakrooms at the same time.
  • Limit sharing of tools, equipment, and machinery.
  • Provide sanitation materials.
  • Require frequent sanitation of high touch areas.

Importantly, all essential retail businesses, warehousing businesses, manufacturing businesses, and businesses performing essential construction must adopt policies pertaining to potential exposures.  The policies must, at a minimum: require the company to immediately separate and send home workers who appear to have symptoms of COVID-19; promptly notify workers of any known exposure at the worksite (maintaining confidentiality as required by law); clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines if a worker has been diagnosed; and follow guidelines and directives issued by the New Jersey Department of Health, CDC, and OSHA for maintaining a clean, safe and healthy environment.

Owners of any buildings where essential businesses operate or with 50 or more residential units must adopt policies for disinfecting high touch areas and ensure cleaning after a known or suspected exposure.  The owners must also ensure that the facility has sufficient staff to perform the required protocols.

The Order also halts all non-essential construction projects across the state, making limited exceptions for emergency repairs, projects in critical industries, and in certain other limited instances, subject to strict limits on the number of workers on site.

This Order is the latest in a number of significant developments in New Jersey, as it comes on the heels of Executive Orders extending the state of emergency, delaying the New Jersey primary election, and closing all state and county parks.

Reed Smith’s attorneys will continue to monitor the status of operations in New Jersey and throughout the country.  If you have any questions about the impacts on your operations, our team is available to assist.