New Jersey Opens Up for Business – Slowly

May 15, 2020Alerts

On May 13, 2020, New Jersey Gov, Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 142 and began the process of reopening the state.

Referencing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations regarding social distancing, the use of cloth face coverings in public settings and certain cleaning and disinfecting procedures for business to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, the governor ordered that construction and non-essential retail businesses may reopen under certain circumstances, effective at 6 a.m., Monday, May 18, 2020. Social gatherings in which participants meet while remaining in their vehicles can also resume immediately.


The physical operations of all construction projects that were not designated as essential in Executive Order No. 122 can resume, subject to the following conditions:

  • Prohibit nonessential visitors from entering the work site.
  • Engage in appropriate social distancing measures when picking up or delivering equipment or materials.
  • Limit work site meetings, inductions, and work groups 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 to limit the number of individuals entering and leaving the work site concurrently.
  • Identify congested and “high-risk areas,” including but not limited to lunchrooms, break rooms, portable rest rooms and elevators, 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. Nothing in the stated policy should prevent workers or visitors from wearing a surgical-grade mask or other more protective face covering if the individual is already in possession of such equipment, or if the business is otherwise required to provide such worker with more protective equipment due to the nature of the work involved. 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, break rooms, equipment, and machinery.
  • When the work site is an occupied residence, require workers to sanitize work areas and keep a distance of at least six feet from the occupants.
  • Place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the work site detailing the above mandates.

Nonessential Retail Businesses

All nonessential retail businesses are permitted to reopen to the public, if they limit operations to curbside pickup of goods. Customers are not permitted to enter the brick-and-mortar premises. In-store operations are limited, wherever feasible, to those employees responsible for curbside pickup operations. Goods are to be preordered by customers and pickup is to be scheduled in advance by phone, email, fax or other means that avoid person-to-person contact, wherever feasible. The customer must be asked to remain in their vehicle, if arriving by car, until store staff delivers the purchase, and designated employees shall bring goods outside of the retail establishment and place the goods directly in a customer’s vehicle whenever feasible. Retail businesses operating in shopping malls are also permitted to operate with curbside pickup, with employees bringing the goods to customers at the exterior of the mall and placing them directly in a customer’s vehicle whenever feasible. The indoor portions of shopping malls must remain closed to the public.

Additionally, nonessential retail business employers must provide for the following, at a minimum:

  • Infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette and proper tissue usage and disposal
  • Break time to employees for repeated hand-washing
  • Sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and wipes, to staff
  • Frequent sanitization of high-touch areas to which workers have access
  • Require workers to wear cloth face coverings and gloves (provided at the expense of the employer) when interacting with other workers or customers and to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods.  Workers may wear a surgical-grade mask or other more protective face covering if they possess such equipment, or if the business is otherwise required to provide workers with more protective equipment due to the nature of the work involved.

Gatherings of Individuals (Such as Parties, Celebrations or Other Social Events)

Effective May 13, 2020,  Executive Order No. 142 provides that social gatherings (which had been cancelled pursuant to Executive Order No. 107, dated March 21, 2020) are permitted under certain limited conditions:

  • Attendees participating in the gathering must arrive in a vehicle and they must remain in that same vehicle during the entire 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:
    • The vehicle is more than six feet from any other vehicle or individual, except for, as applicable, the limited number of individuals organizing or maintaining the gathering
    • 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 there are individuals organizing or maintaining the gathering who are not in closed vehicles, such individuals must follow all applicable Executive Orders and Administrative Orders, and must wear cloth face coverings or more protective face coverings in any settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health.
  • To the degree that a gathering requires prepayment, or seeks donations of any kind, contactless options for prepayment or donation, such as online or by telephone, must be offered wherever feasible.

The above guidelines do not prevent 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.

Individuals leaving their homes to participate in any gathering in accordance with the above guidelines and recreational and entertainment events that adhere to the rules laid out above will not be a violation of Paragraph 2 of previous Executive Order No. 107 (2020).

Additional Information