New Jersey Begins Phase 2 in Process of Reopening

June 10, 2020Alerts

New Jerseyans are ready to get out of the house, businesses are anxious to reopen and the state is ready to let them – with some continuing restrictions. Authorizing Phase 2 to begin, Gov. Phil Murphy signed two Executive Orders to open the state back up and lift Executive Order 107, New Jersey’s stay-at-home order, which has been in effect since March 21, 2020.

While Executive Orders 152 and 153 do not amount to an outright opening of the floodgates, they allow many businesses in the state to begin a process of recovery. Businesses should consider how this will impact staffing levels and communicate any deviations from normal practice to employees.

As a reminder, the stay-at-home order required all residents to stay home unless they were:

  • Obtaining goods or services from essential businesses;
  • Getting takeout food;
  • Seeking medical attention;
  • Visiting family or other individuals with whom there is a close personal relationship;
  • Reporting to or performing their job;
  • Engaging in outdoor activities while social distancing;
  • Leaving for an educational, religious, or political reason;
  • Leaving for fear of one’s own health or safety; or
  • Leaving at the direction of law enforcement or other government agency.

Restrictions Relaxed, But Preventative Measures Continue

In Phase 2, the following facilities are permitted to reopen:

  • Most retail establishments can reopen at 50 percent capacity beginning June 15.
  • Child daycare centers can reopen on June 15.
  • Public and private community pools can reopen on June 22.
  • Hair salons and barbershops can reopen with restrictions on June 22.

Additional restrictions are being relaxed, subject to the following:

  • Indoor gatherings are capped at 25 percent of the building’s capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower;
  • Anyone present at an indoor gathering of 10 or more people must wear a face mask and practice social distancing;
  • Indoor dining is still excluded;
  • Indoor entertainment facilities are still closed;
  • Playgrounds will remain closed;
  • Outdoor gatherings are capped at 100 with social distancing measures in place and wear face masks where social distancing cannot be maintained;
  • Outdoor recreational and entertainment businesses can reopen with the exception of amusement parks, water parks and arcades, but must limit capacity to a number that allows social distancing.

Working from home is no longer required, but it is still very much encouraged. CDC and OSHA guidelines should still be followed for returning workers. Things like physical barriers or shields should be installed wherever feasible between the public and employees. Employees should be permitted to wash or sanitize their hands frequently.

In addition, as businesses prepare to open their doors to the public again, there should be processes in place to ensure it can be done safely. This may include increased signage and floor markings to support social distancing. High contact areas should be frequently disinfected and, if possible, businesses should contemplate ways to reduce the amount of contact, such as automatic doors, non-contact payment, or other similar measures.

Restrictions on gatherings will be relaxed while mandates face masks and social distancing, will remain in place. Businesses should plan accordingly and put together the necessary procedures to facilitate operations.

Gov. Murphy has stated that he expects to raise the cap on outdoor gatherings to 250 on June 22 and 500 people on July 3 if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to trend downward.

For more information about this alert, please contact Jonathan D. Ash at 609.895.7079 or [email protected], or any member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Department.