New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed Executive Order 142, which cues the early stages of reopening. New Jersey residents can now hold small in-person gatherings, as well as attend vehicular gatherings or events. Starting May 18, nonessential retail businesses can open, but only for curbside pickup and provided they require infection control practices inside the store. Nonessential construction projects can also resume on May 18.
New Jersey Residents Can Have Small Gatherings and Vehicular Gatherings
Effective immediately, the order relaxes the current prohibition on gatherings and allows for normal in-person gatherings of up to 10 people.
Also effective immediately, the order allows for “gatherings” of individuals who arrive and remain in their vehicle (such as for birthday and graduation car parades), with all doors and windows closed unless they are at least six feet from other vehicles and people. While the limited number of people organizing the gathering do not need to be in vehicles, they must follow all other executive orders and maintain social distancing. Even recreational and entertainment events where customers remain in their vehicles are allowed (i.e., drive-in movies, religious services, or drive-through farms or safaris). If the gathering requires prepayment or seeks donations, contactless payment options must be offered wherever feasible.
Curbside Pickup Allowed for Brick-and-Mortar Nonessential Retail Businesses
Since March 21, all nonessential retail businesses in New Jersey have been closed to the public. These businesses must remain physically closed for customers, but can reopen for curbside pickup beginning May 18 at 6:00 am.
These provisions generally contemplate delivery to customers in vehicles “where feasible” but do not explicitly prohibit curbside pickup by people without vehicles who “walk-up” instead of “drive-up.”
Nonessential Construction Can Resume
Nonessential construction projects, which were halted on April 10, may also resume on May 18. All construction projects are required to enforce social distancing and require infection control practices at work sites. The substantial list of requirements includes maintaining six feet of distance between individuals, staggering work and break times, providing employees with face coverings and gloves that must be worn on-site, limiting gatherings in high-risk areas (like lunchrooms, breakrooms, and elevators), and frequent sanitization of high-touch areas. Notably, sites must place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the worksite detailing the order’s mandates.
What Should New Jersey Employers Do Now?
As businesses begin to ramp up, they should plan for anything but business as usual. Social distancing and infection control measures remain paramount for employee and customer safety. Businesses that were forced to shut down brick-and-mortar locations should consider whether and when they can resume operations compliant with Executive Order 142. A return to work for employees will require changes to normal practices that may include reinforcing good hygiene tips, frequent cleaning, staggered schedules, and additional measures to distance customers. Recreational and entertainment venues considering opening for vehicular events should similarly consider training employees for changes in operations and safety measures.
For our clients, we have formed a multidisciplinary Coronavirus COVID-19 Task Force to help guide you through the broad scope of legal issues brought on by this public health challenge. Find resources on how to cope with the post-pandemic reality on our NOW. NORMAL. NEXT. page and our COVID-19 page to help keep you on top of developments as they unfold. If you would like to receive a daily digest of all new updates to the page, please subscribe now to receive our COVID-19 alerts, and download our biweekly COVID-19 Legal Issue Compendium.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers: