New Jersey Begins Re-Opening Process

Last updated May 14, 2020

As the rate of reported new COVID-19 cases in New Jersey continues to decline, Governor Murphy has begun the process of reopening the State. On May 13, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order No. 142 (the “Order”) permitting (i) non-essential construction to resume, (ii) gatherings under specific guidelines and (iii) non-essential retail businesses to reopen for curbside pickup service.

Non-Essential Construction Projects

The Governor chose to begin the reopening of the State with non-essential construction projects, because construction sites are generally limited to workers, rather than customers and other members of the public, and therefore involve less risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 in the community. As of 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, 2020 all construction projects in the State will be permitted to move forward. However, all businesses engaged in construction projects must, at a minimum, adopt and strictly adhere to the following safety requirements:

  • Prohibit non-essential visitors from entering the worksite;
  • Engage in appropriate social distancing measures when picking up or delivering equipment or materials;
  • Limit worksite meetings, inductions, and workgroups to groups of fewer than 10 individuals;
  • Require individuals to maintain six feet or more distance between them wherever possible;
  • Stagger work start and stop times where practicable;
  • Identify congested and “high-risk areas,” and limit the number of individuals at those sites concurrently where practicable;
  • Stagger lunch breaks and work times where practicable to enable operations to safely continue while utilizing the least number of individuals possible at the site;
  • Require workers and visitors to wear cloth face coverings, in accordance with CDC recommendations, while on the premises, except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health or the individual is under two years of age, and require workers to wear gloves while on the premises. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings and gloves for their employees. If a visitor refuses to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons and if such covering cannot be provided to the individual by the business at the point of entry, then the business must decline entry to the individual. Where an individual declines to wear a face covering on the premises due to a medical condition that inhibits such usage, neither the business nor its staff shall require the individual to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition;
  • Require infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal;
  • Limit sharing of tools, equipment, and machinery;
  • Where running water is not available, provide portable washing stations with soap and/or alcohol-based hand sanitizers that have greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol;
  • Require frequent sanitization of high-touch areas like restrooms, breakrooms, equipment, and machinery;
  • When the worksite is an occupied residence, require workers to sanitize work areas and keep a distance of at least six feet from the occupants; and
  • Place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the worksite detailing the above mandates.

Social Gatherings

Under a previously issued executive order, Executive Order No. 107, the Governor cancelled gatherings of individuals, such as for parties, celebrations, or other social events. After careful consideration the State has determined that whereas gatherings generally present a significant risk of person-to-person transmission, attendees at gatherings who remain in their vehicles and therefore do not come into significant in-person contact during the gathering pose a lower threat to public health and safety.

The newly issued Order carves out an exception to Executive Order No. 107 for any gatherings where participants arrive in a vehicle and remain in that same vehicle during the entirety of the gathering. Each attendee’s vehicle must remain entirely closed at all times, meaning that the windows, doors, sunroofs, and tops of the vehicle must be closed at all times unless (i) the vehicle is more than six feet away from any other vehicle or individual except for attendees present at the gathering; or (ii) a law enforcement officer, appropriate public official, or private security guard asks any attendee to open the vehicle’s windows, doors, sunroofs, and/or tops. If attendees are not within closed vehicles, such attendees must follow all previous applicable Executive Orders and Administrative Orders, as well as wear cloth face covering in any setting where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health. Additionally, under the Order recreational and entertainment events are permitted, insofar as attendees are restricted to their vehicles. Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing in the Order prevents an individual from leaving a vehicle, opening a vehicle’s windows, sunroofs, doors, and/or tops, and/or approaching a vehicle, if done to protect their health or safety or the health or safety of another individual, or to access a restroom. In the event a gathering or event requires pre-payment, or seeks donations of any kind, contactless payment options must be offered where feasible.

Non-Essential Retail Businesses

The State has determined that since curbside pickup avoids unnecessary contact between customers and staff, and is limited to a similar amount of contact that may happen when products are delivered to a residence, non-essential retail businesses can offer curbside pickup services. The Order permits non-essential retail businesses to reopen to the public as of 6:00 a.m. on Monday May 18, 2020, but only if such businesses adopt policies that include at a minimum the following requirements:

  • Customers shall not be permitted to enter the brick-and-mortar premises, but shall be permitted to pick up goods outside of the establishment that they have already ordered (“Curbside pickup”);
  • In-store operations shall be limited, wherever feasible, to those employees who are responsible for the operations required for Curbside Pickup;
  • Customer transactions shall be handled in advance by phone, email, facsimile, or other means that avoid person-to-person contact, wherever feasible;
  • Customers shall notify the retailer by text message, email, or phone once they arrive, whenever feasible, or make best efforts to schedule their arrival time in advance. The customer shall be asked to remain in their vehicle, if arriving by car, until store staff delivers the purchase;
  • Designated employees shall bring goods outside of the retail establishment and place the goods directly in a customer’s vehicle whenever feasible; and
  • Retail businesses operating in shopping malls are permitted to operate by Curbside Pickup, but employees must bring the goods to customers at the exterior of the mall and shall place them directly in a customer’s vehicle whenever feasible. The indoor portions of shopping malls shall remain closed to the public.

Non-essential retail business employers that choose to open must take special precautions to ensure the safety of employees. Employers are required to follow heightened health requirements that at a minimum:

  • Require infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal;
  • Provide employees break time for repeated handwashing throughout the workday;
  • Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, to staff;
  • Require frequent sanitization of high-touch areas to which workers have access; and
  • Require workers to wear cloth face coverings and gloves when interacting with other workers or customers and require workers to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings and gloves for their employees.

Lastly, the Order requires every person or entity in the State or doing business in the State, to cooperate fully in all matters concerning the Order and all previous executive orders. No municipality, county or any other agency or political subdivision of the State may enact or enforce any order, rule regulation, ordinance, or resolution which will or might in any way conflict with any of the provisions of the Order, or which will or might in any way interfere with or impede the achievement of the Order. The State Director of Emergency Management has been given the authority to, at its discretion, make additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions, and exclusions to the terms of the Order.

For additional information pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit CSG’s COVID-19 Resource Center.

This publication contains general information on recent legal developments and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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