We all no doubt feel like we’ve been living “Murphy’s Law,” but today the New Jersey Governor has issued a definitive Executive Order that is surprisingly less restrictive than New York State’s version. Executive Order 107 requires the closure of the brick-and-mortar premises of all non-essential retail businesses, all recreational and entertainment venues, and personal care services–that’s about it.
The Order explicitly defines essential retail to include food stores, pharmacies, medical marijuana dispensaries (he just couldn’t let it go even now), gas stations, hardware stores (so we can keep busy with those home improvement projects), banks (so they’re open when we make our run to withdraw all available cash), stores that sell supplies for children under 5 (very thoughtful), liquor stores (equally thoughtful), auto repair shops, and restaurants for takeout only. There are even some rules on how restaurants can do take out liquor, which may actually allow some of them and us to survive.
As for every other business, the order directs that employers must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements. For those employees for whom remote work isn’t possible, employers are urged to use best efforts to reduce staff on-site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue. So non-essential retail, recreational/entertainment, and personal care are closed. Everyone else can be opened, with as many working remotely and as few in the place as possible. New Jersey was Born to Run!
The spirit of the Order though is clearly to keep Jerseyans home. In fact, it states: All New Jersey residents shall remain home…unless getting goods or services at essential retail establishments, including takeout, medical attention, a few tokes at the dispensary and then right back home. But the Order also includes an exception to leave home for purposes of reporting to, or performing their jobs. Interestingly, the Order permits leaving home to visit family or others with whom the resident has a close personal relationship. Believe it or not, another ticket to freedom is to visit a romantic partner. Go figure.
The most intriguing exception to the stay in Order is the exception for those leaving home for an educational, religious, or political reason. Huh…what’s that last one? What possible political reason is there to leave your home during a Pandemic?
This Order goes into effect Saturday night, March 21, 2020, at 9:00 PM. A second Executive Order (108) nullifies all the efforts by County Executives to impose restrictions beyond their legal authority.
Let us know if you have any questions. We will continue to keep you updated on this and any other changes to the employment landscape.
Do stay home if you can and if not, stay safe!