COVID-19 Update: New Jersey Implements Stay-at-Home Order and Closure of All Non-Essential Retail Businesses

COVID-19 Update: New Jersey Implements Stay-at-Home Order and Closure of All Non-Essential Retail Businesses

Effective Saturday, March 21 at 9:00 pm, as a result of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 107, all New Jersey residents are directed to stay at home until further notice. The goal of this Order is to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the population and preserve New Jersey’s health care system for the State’s most vulnerable residents.  

The Order provides for limited exceptions to the stay-at-home mandate, and allows residents to leave their homes for the following reasons:

  • Seeking medical attention;
  • Picking up takeout food or beverages from restaurants, other dining establishments, or food courts;
  • 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”;
  • Reporting to work;
  • Engaging in outdoor activities with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
  • Obtaining essential goods or services;
  • Educational, religious, or political reasons;
  • Reasonable fear of one’s health or safety; and
  • At the direction of law enforcement or another government agency.

The Order further directs that all non-essential retail businesses be closed to the public with the exception of the following:

  • Grocery stores, farmer’s markets, 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;
  • Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
  • Gas stations;
  • Liquor stores;
  • Convenience stores;
  • Medical supply stores;
  • Ancillary stores with healthcare facilities;
  • Hardware and home improvement stores;
  • Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
  • Banks and other financial institutions;
  • Pet stores;
  • Printing and office supply shops;
  • Mail and delivery stores;
  • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years of age; and
  • Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance, auto repair, and auto mechanics.

Non-essential retail businesses are directed to have most of their workforce telework or work from home “whenever practicable” unless employees cannot perform their job functions through such an arrangement. Specifically, the Order states, “the business or non-profit should make the best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.” Some examples of employees who need to be physically present to perform their essential job functions, as listed in the Order, include law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders, construction workers, lab researchers, repair workers, employees who perform IT maintenance, janitorial and custodial staff, and employees who perform certain administrative functions.  

Nothing in the Order limits the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents (i.e. food banks), the operations of law enforcement agencies, the operations of the federal government, and the operations of the media.

The Order mandates that for so long as the Order remains in effect, all public, private, and parochial schools must remain closed and that all institutions of higher learning must cease in-person instruction.   Further, the Order forbids gatherings of individuals (i.e. parties, celebrations, or other social events).

If you have any questions about Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 107 and compliance with the same or any other State or Federal laws and directives related to COVID-19, please reach out to the Employment and Labor Practice Group at Laddey, Clark & Ryan, LLP: Thomas N. Ryan, Esq. (tryan@lcrlaw.com), Ursula H. Leo, Esq. (uleo@lcrlaw.com), or Nicole C. Tracy, Esq. (ntracy@lcrlaw.com). Our attorneys can also be reached by phone at (973) 729-1880.