Update on New Jersey Legislative Reaction to COVID-19

The Country is slowly reopening for business. The office of the Governor in NJ is taking action to attempt to reopen in a measured and responsible way with incremental steps intended to help protect against a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Here are some of the recent Orders and other Legislation that may impact your day to day lives and plans for the resumption of your business operations. As we get closer to the end of this incredibly challenging period in our collective history, and the re-creation of “life as usual”, please stay safe and vigilant:

Executive Order 142 (EO142)  5/12/2020- Permitting Resumption of Non-Essential Construction, Curbside Pickup at Non-Essential Retail Businesses, and Gatherings in Cars

The construction and non-essential retail provisions will take effect at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, while the car gatherings provision will take effect immediately.

Non-Essential Construction: The Order permits non-essential construction projects to resume effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18. All construction projects must abide by the social distancing, safety, and sanitization requirements that are described in detail in the Governor’s Executive Order.

Curbside Pickup at Non-Essential Retail Businesses: The Order also permits non-essential retail businesses to allow curbside pickup of goods, beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, but businesses must continue to have their in-store operations closed to customers.  Businesses who choose to offer curbside pickup must abide by the requirements in the Order, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • In-store operations should be limited to those employees who are responsible for the operations required for curbside pickup;
  • Customer transactions should be handled in advance by phone, email, facsimile or other means that avoid person-to-person contact;
  • Customers shall notify the retailer by text message, email, or phone once they arrive, or make best efforts to schedule their arrival time in advance.  The customer should be asked to remain in their vehicle, if arriving by car, until store staff delivers the purchase;
  • Designated employees should bring goods outside of the retail establishment and place goods directly in a customer’s vehicle when possible, avoiding person-to-person contact; and
  • Such businesses must follow social distancing and mitigation practices outlined in previous orders, including requiring workers to wear cloth face coverings when in contact with other workers or customers and gloves when in contact with goods or customers.

Car Gatherings:  The Order states that car gatherings do not violate the Governor’s ban on gatherings under Executive Order No. 107.  Examples of such car gatherings include but are not limited to drive-in movies, religious services, or drive-through farms or safaris.  Car gatherings will be subject to the restrictions in the Order, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Attendees must remain in their same car throughout the gathering, unless 1) an occupant needs to get out of the vehicle for their health or safety or 2) an occupant needs to use the restroom;
  • The vehicle must remain closed at all times unless 1) there is six feet of distance between other vehicles or individuals or 2) an officer, public official or guard requires the vehicle to open. There is a further exception allowing the opening of the vehicle if necessary for health or safety;
  • Individuals organizing the gathering who are not in vehicles must follow social distancing and wear cloth face coverings; and
  • To the degree that a gathering requires pre-payment, or seeks donations of any kind, contactless options for pre-payment or donation, such as online or by telephone, must be offered wherever feasible.

Retail businesses operating in shopping malls are permitted to operate by curbside pickup, in accordance with the other requirements of this paragraph, but staff must bring the goods to customers at the exterior of the mall.  The indoor portions of shopping malls must remain closed, as required by the Governor’s previous orders.

A copy of Executive Order No. 142  can be found here.

Executive Order 145 (EO145)  5/15/2020- Allowing Elective Surgeries and Invasive Procedures to Resume on May 26

Allowing elective surgeries and invasive procedures, both medical and dental, to resume on Tuesday, May 26 at 5:00 a.m. These procedures will resume according to policies that will be issued by the New Jersey Department of Health and the Division of Consumer Affairs by Monday, May 18. This order rescinds the suspension of all elective surgeries and invasive procedures performed on adults, which was instituted beginning on March 27 under Executive Order No. 109 to preserve essential equipment and health care system capacity to respond to COVID-19.

Among the directives, Executive Order No. 145 requires that the Department of Health issue policies by Monday, May 18 that will address how elective surgeries and invasive procedures may proceed in health care facilities.  These policies will address relevant considerations, such as the following:

  • Which types of facilities can resume these procedures;
  • Which specific facilities are eligible to resume these procedures, based upon their current or potential capacity;
  • Whether facilities will be required to prioritize certain procedures, and if so, what considerations should guide these decisions;
  • Personal Protective Equipment requirements for facilities that resume these procedures;
  • Staffing requirements for facilities that resume these procedures;
  • Whether facilities should cohort COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients;
  • Requirements for patients seeking these procedures to undergo testing, self-quarantine, or other preventive measures, as applicable;
  • Policies surrounding visitors;
  • Policies surrounding discharge of patients after the procedures are completed;
  • Reporting metrics regarding the resumption of these procedures.

Also, by Monday, May 18, the Division of Consumer Affairs will issue policies addressing similar considerations for how elective surgeries and invasive procedures may proceed in outpatient settings that are not licensed by the Department of Health.

For a copy of Executive Order No. 145, click here.

Assembly Bill A3966 (A3966) 5/15/2020- Authorizing the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages by Certain License and Permit Holders for Takeout and Delivery

Under the bill, the holder of plenary retail consumption licenses, hotel or motel licenses, seasonal retail consumption licenses, or concessionaire permits, generally issued to bars and restaurants, would be permitted to sell and deliver alcoholic beverages in original containers or in closed and sealed containers and mixed cocktails in closed and sealed containers for consumption off the licensed premises during the state of emergency.

The bill also allows craft distillery licensees to sell for consumption off the licensed premises distilled alcoholic beverages that are manufactured on the licensed premises and mixed or blended with other alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages and sold in closed and sealed containers.  Additionally, the bill would allow craft distilleries to sell distilled alcoholic beverages in original containers accompanied by one or more nonalcoholic beverages or food stuffs that may be combined by the consumer to prepare a mixed drink.

The bill expires six months following the date: (1) on which the state of emergency has ended; or (2) on which the coronavirus-related occupancy or customer seating restrictions no longer apply to the licensed premises, whichever occurs later.

Executive Order 143 (EO143) 05/14/2020-Allowing Beaches, Boardwalks, Lakes, and Lakeshores to Remain Open with Social Distancing Measures in Place

The Order takes effect on Friday, May 22. Under the Order, the following shall remain closed on private and public beaches, boardwalks, lakes, and lakeshores: water fountains, picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, indoor recreational facilities, and other buildings and facilities, such as visitor centers. There is an exception allowing bathrooms, showering areas, and changing areas to stay open. To limit physical interactions, the Order requires municipalities, lake commissions, private club associations or entities, and other local government to implement reasonable restrictions, including:

  • Imposing non-discriminatory capacity restrictions;
  • Requiring that members of the public practice social distancing;
  • Developing and implementing lifeguard training and beach operation plans that address COVID-19 considerations;
  • Removing, taping-off or otherwise blocking all benches and tables;
  • Prohibiting the tying together of boats to prevent group gatherings;
  • Developing and implementing a continuous public outreach campaign, including signage, social media, town and county websites, mobile device applications, radio, and banner-plane advertising;
  • Prohibiting special events such as festivals, concerts, fireworks, and movies;
  • Prohibiting all organized or contact activities or sports;
  • Limit occupancy in public restrooms; and
  • Implementing sanitization protocols.

The restrictions also apply to public piers, docks, wharfs, boat ramps, and boat landings throughout the State. Municipalities, counties, any responsible commission, association, or unit of county or local government, and private beach clubs may impose additional restrictions to the ones listed above and retain the legal authority to close beaches or boardwalks if they choose to do so.

Due to the diverse nature of the shore and lake communities, the Order does not mandate specific social distancing measures. Examples of social distancing measures left to a municipality’s discretion include but are not limited to the following:

  • Demarcating six feet of spacing in any areas where the public may form a line;
  • Limiting the number of lifeguards to each stand or tower, maintaining social distance between lifeguards, and adding stands or towers as necessary;
  • Installing physical barriers between the public and employees in ticket or beach badge sale booths; and
  • Limiting occupancy of ticket or beach badge sales booth to one person at a time.

The Order explicitly prohibits capacity limitations that discriminate against non-residents, low-income people, and other protected classes.

The Order also recommends, but does not order, that people wear a face covering while in public settings at the beaches, lakes and lakeshores when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

The Order further clarifies that restaurants and bars located on the beaches, boardwalks, lakes and lakeshores are still limited to delivery and take-out services only and that amusements parks and arcades, and other places of public amusement located on the beaches, boardwalks, lakes, and lakeshores remain closed.  Any outdoor seating, such as tables or benches, must be removed, taped off, or otherwise blocked. To be consistent with the restrictions established in the Order, swimming in designated areas and picnicking will now be allowed at State Parks and Forests, as well as county and municipal parks.  Additionally, this Order reopens restrooms in parks, while requiring frequent sanitization measures, effective Saturday, May 16.

A copy of Executive Order No. 143 can be found here.

Executive Directive 5/12/2020- Health Commissioner Orders COVID-19 Testing in all Long-Term Care Facilities

Heath Commissioner Judith Persichilli signed an Executive Directive requiring all long-term care facilities in the state to implement testing of staff and residents for the virus by May 26. In addition, the Executive Directive provides for retesting of individuals who test negative within 3-7 days to detect those with newly developed infection, and further retesting in according with CDC guidance. Long-term care facilities also have to amend their  outbreak plans to include plans for testing and retesting staff and residents, cohorting of residents who test positive, policies for excluding staff who test positive as well and timeframes and requirements for returning to work in accordance with CDC and Department of Health recommendations.

The Executive Directive applies to licensed nursing homes, Assisted Living facilities, dementia care homes, residential health care facilities and comprehensive personal care homes.

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