Governor Murphy’s executive order (EO 107) took effect last night, March 21, 2020 at 9:00pm, and will remain in effect until further notice. The order imposes significant restrictions on when people can be outside of their homes but does not require residents to shelter in place. It also imposes significant restrictions on businesses (both essential and non-essential), but does not require all non-essential businesses to shut down, as some news outlets have reported. Here are the highlights. The full text of EO 107 can be found here.
EO 107 provides that New Jersey residents must remain home unless “they are 1) obtaining goods or services from essential retail businesses, as described in Paragraph 6; 2) obtaining takeout food or beverages from restaurants, other dining establishments, or food courts, pursuant to Paragraph 8; 3) seeking medical attention, essential social services, or assistance from law enforcement or emergency services; 4) visiting family or other individuals with whom the resident has a close personal relationship, such as those for whom the individual is a caretaker or romantic partner; 5) reporting to, or performing, their job; 6) walking, running, operating a wheelchair, or engaging in outdoor activities with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners while following best social distancing practices with other individuals, including staying six feet apart; 7) leaving the home for an educational, religious, or political reason; 8) leaving because of a reasonable fear for his or her health or safety; or 9) leaving at the direction of law enforcement or other government agency.”
When in public, we must stay at least six feet away from non-family members (or certain other close relationships).
All “[g]atherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events, are cancelled.”
All non-essential retail businesses must close their brick-and-mortar premises to the public. Essential retail businesses may remain open.
The following retail businesses are considered essential:
a. Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store;
b. Pharmacies and alternative treatment centers that dispense medicinal marijuana;
c. Medical supply stores;
d. Retail functions of gas stations;
e. Convenience stores;
f. Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
g. Hardware and home improvement stores;
h. Retail functions of banks and other financial institutions;
i. Retail functions of laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
j. Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years old;
k. Pet stores;
l. Liquor stores;
m. Car dealerships, but only to provide auto maintenance and repair services, and auto mechanics;
n. Retail functions of printing and office supply shops; and
o. Retail functions of mail and delivery stores.
Where practicable, essential retail businesses must provide for pickup services outside or adjacent to their stores for goods ordered in advance. If an essential retail business continues to allow the public inside, it must take all reasonable steps to keep customers six feet apart and frequently sanitize common surfaces.
Restaurants and dining establishments may remain open during normal business hours, but can only offer delivery or takeout services.
All recreational and entertainment businesses, such as casinos and movie theaters, must close. The indoor portion of retail shopping malls must close, but restaurants at malls that have their own entrances can still offer delivery or takeout services.
Barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, and spas, as well as additional types of businesses that perform personal care services, must close.
All libraries must close.
Importantly, non-retail businesses and non-profits in the state may continue to operate. However, they must “accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements.” If certain employees cannot perform their jobs remotely, they can go to their jobsite, but “the business or non-profit should make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.” In other words, any business or non-profit that continues to operate on-site should have a skeleton crew consisting of workers that are essential to keep the business running.
All schools must remain closed.
Essential services to low-income residents, including food banks, are not restricted or prohibited.
Governor Murphy simultaneously issued another executive order (EO 108) that makes clear that EO 107 preempts any contrary limitations or restrictions imposed by any other municipal or county entity. This means that there is only one standard across the state; towns and counties cannot impose any additional restrictions.