Suspension of Blue Laws in Bergen County

Andrew S. Kohut, Esq. advises that given the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Governor’s office issued Executive Order No. 109 suspending Bergen County’s Blue Laws.  Therefore, retail establishments are temporarily permitted to operate on Sundays.  Unfortunately, at this time it is not exactly clear whether there are any restrictions as to what goods may be sold on those days. 

 Executive Order No. 109 states in relevant part, “WHEREAS, residents of New Jersey require adequate access to retail supplies of clothing and apparel, building and lumber supply materials, furniture, home furnishings and household appliances, among other items, as the State continues rebuilding and returning to normal…” The Executive Order goes on to state that the Blue Laws prohibit many of these items from being sold on Sundays.  Therefore, the Executive Order directs that, “The restrictions on certain Sunday sales…are suspended”.  Furthermore, no governmental entity can enforce any law which conflicts with the Executive Order.

The issue is that the Executive Order is not clear as to whether ALL goods can be sold on Sundays or just those goods referred to in the Order itself.  The use of the word “certain” is causing much of the confusion.  Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera has already made it clear that he does not believe this Executive Order allows for the unrestricted sales of goods on Sundays.  As it pertains to sporting goods stores he stated, “But if they’re selling basketballs or fishing equipment, the blue laws will be strictly enforced and they’ll have to face the consequences.”  In general Mayor LaBarbiera said, “The stores will be expected to limit sales to specific items on Sundays, and if they do not, then there will be strict enforcement of the blue laws, which include a fine and might include arrest.”  He continues, “We will be going around making sure every store and every mall tenant complies with the rules that only certain items can be sold, and I pity the tenant that willfully continues to sell products that aren’t covered within the limits of the law that was written.”

 Unless Governor Christie clarifies the Executive Order in the near future, the most prudent thing to do is to contact local officials to ascertain how the Executive Order will be enforced in the municipality you are located in.  Therefore, we highly recommend that any retail establishments contact their municipal and/or county governmental officials before conducting Sunday sales that fall outside the parameters of the Executive Order.  Of course, our office would be happy to assist you in contacting those governmental officials in an effort to get some clarity on the situation.  It would seem that your only other option would be to conduct unrestricted sales on Sundays and risk the legal ramifications.  

 If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our office to further discuss your particular situation.

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