Effective 3.21.20: NJ Governor Orders Non-essential Businesses To Close

All Businesses Must Reduce Their On-Site Workforce and Permit Employees To Work Remotely Where “Practicable”

Effective March 21, 2020, 9:00pm

Yesterday New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order 107 in response to the ongoing Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) public health crisis. The Order became effective on March 21, 2020 at 9:00 PM. The Order places a variety of restrictions on all State residents and businesses. The following is a general summary of the key provisions that directly affect the business community and their employees:

  • All New Jersey residents are required to remain home, with limited exceptions; they are permitted to leave their residence to perform their job.
  • While at work, employees must practice social distancing and stay at least six feet apart whenever practicable. This would include, for example, while having lunch and taking public transportation to and from work.
  • All “non-essential retail businesses” must close their brick-and-mortar premises.
  • The Order delineates a number of “essential” retail businesses that may remain open to the public (subject to certain restrictions):
      • Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers
      • Pharmacies and alternative treatment centers that dispense medicinal marijuana
      • Medical supply stores
      • Retail functions of gas stations
      • Convenience stores
      • Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities
      • Hardware and home improvement stores
      • Retail functions of banks and other financial institutions
      • Retail functions of laundromats and dry-cleaning services
      • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years old
      • Pet stores
      • Liquor stores
      • Car dealerships, but only to provide auto maintenance and repair services
      • Retail functions of printing and office supply shops
      • Retail functions of mail and delivery stores
  • Restaurants may operate during their normal business hours but are limited to offering only food delivery and/or take-out services.
  • All employers must permit their employees to work remotely “wherever practicable.” This includes accommodating all employees who can “telework” and/or work from home.
  • If employees cannot perform their job functions through telework or work-from-home arrangements, the business should make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.
  • Examples of employees who need to be physically present at their work site in order to perform their duties include:
      • Law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders
      • Cashiers and store clerks
      • Construction workers
      • Utility workers
      • Repair workers
      • Warehouse workers
      • Lab researchers
      • Information technology maintenance workers
      • Janitorial and custodial staff
      • Certain administrative staff
  • Violations of the Executive Order are punishable by imprisonment for a term not to exceed 6 months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.00.

The Governor’s office already has issued a number of clarifications via Twitter (welcome to 2020) and certain statements made by Governor Murphy at his press conference are somewhat different from the plain language of the Executive Order.