COVID-19: New Jersey Updates As of March 20, 2020

Statewide Restrictions:

On March 16, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered all schools, casinos, racetracks, gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, performing arts center, other concert venues, nightclubs, and other entertainment centers to close to the public effective March 16, 2020 at 8 p.m., except for schools, which were ordered to close effective March 18, 2020. Governor Murphy also limited public gatherings to 50 persons or fewer, excluding normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, office environments, factories, assemblages for the purpose of industrial or manufacturing work, construction sites, mass transit, or the purchase of groceries or consumer goods.

Governor Murphy also ordered other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses to cease daily operations from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., limit their occupancy to 50 persons or less, and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Essential businesses excluded from the Governor’s directive include grocery/food stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, gas stations, healthcare facilities and ancillary stores within healthcare facilities.

Under the Order, restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, bars, and holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges are allowed to operate normal business hours, but must limit business to food delivery and/or take-out services only.

The Order also grants the State Director of Emergency Management the discretion to make additions or clarifications. A copy of Executive Order 104 is here.

On March 17, 2020, New Jersey State Director of Emergency Management Colonel Patrick J. Callahan added all indoor common area portions of retail shopping malls, and places of indoor or outdoor public amusement (including bowling alleys and children’s attractions) to the list of facilities ordered to close by the Governor. Public parks and open recreation areas are exempt. The addition took effect on March 17, 2020, at 8 p.m. A copy of the Administrative Order is here.

On March 20, 2020, as part of a multi-state approach, Governor Murphy announced that all barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, nail salons, hair removal services, and related personal care services will be closed to members of the public effective Saturday, March 21 at 8 p.m. Press on this announcement can be found here, and an executive order should be available soon. Governor Murphy’s executive orders can be found here.

Local Restrictions:

Hoboken, New Jersey: Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Ravinder Bhalla announced a “self-isolation” policy on March 17, 2020. The policy requires Hoboken residents to stay home except for essential needs, the purchasing of food, care for a family member or friend, to get health care, or employment where remote work is not possible. Additionally, all travel on public transport or vehicle is restricted to essential needs only. Mayor Bhalla also closed all non-essential businesses in Hoboken effective March 18, 2020 at 9 a.m., including “retail stores, all nail salons, hair salons, massage parlors, and non-essential medical offices.” Mayor Bhalla also limited gatherings of people to 5 people or less in public places.

Bergen County, New Jersey: On March 16, 2020, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco announced an Executive Order to combat the spread of COVID-19 that restricted employment or business within the county, with few exceptions. The Order was to take effect on March 21, 2020 at 8 a.m., but was rescinded prior to taking effect.

Expansion of New Jersey Paid Sick Leave:

Bill A3847 was introduced on March 16, 2020. The bill seeks to provide paid leave without utilizing accumulated leave time for local government employees. Eligible employees are those who fall under the following circumstances, and provide documentation:

  • Employee (or immediate family member) is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Employee (or immediate family member) is directed to self-isolate or quarantine due to a suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19; or
  • Employee (or immediate family member) is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations.

A copy of Bill A3847 can be found here.

COVID-19 Guidance Issued For New Jersey Law Discrimination and Family Leave Act:

On March 19, 2020, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued guidelines addressing questions related to COVID-19 and the rights of New Jersey residents under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination and Family Leave Act. The guidelines clarify that New Jersey employers are barred under state law from firing workers based on perceived COVID-19 symptoms, including coughing, and that they must take reasonable action to stop COVID-19-related harassment between employees. Additionally, the guidelines note that employees who need to stay out of work to care for a family member who has COVID-19 can take job-protected leave under the FLA. A copy of the guidelines is here. A copy of the Attorney General’s press release is here.

Unemployment:

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development released information about state benefits and protections afforded to New Jersey employees during the COVID-19 outbreak for various COVID-19 related reasons. For example,

  • If an employee is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19 and is unable to work, he or she may be entitled to paid sick leave, may be eligible for temporary disability insurance benefits from the State, and may be eligible for workers’ compensation (as applicable);
  • If the workplace is voluntarily closed temporarily due to COVID-19, or if an employee’s hours are reduced by more than 20% a week due to COVID-19, employees may be eligible for unemployment insurance; and
  • If an employee is unable to work because of a workplace closure by order of a public official due to COVID-19, they may be entitled to paid sick leave or unemployment insurance.

If you have any questions, we recommend you contact counsel.

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