We recently reported that on March 21, 2020, Governor Philip D. Murphy’s Executive Order (EO) No. 107 ordered that all non-essential retail businesses close their physical locations in New Jersey until further notice effective immediately. On March 30, 2020, New Jersey expanded, for the second time, the list of essential retail businesses whose physical locations are permitted to continue operating during their normal business hours (which were originally included in EO 107’s order to close “nonessential” businesses to prevent the further spread of COVID-19). The second round of guidance adds licensed federal firearms licensees, real estate agents, and car dealers, all under certain conditions. Under Administrative Order No. 2020-6 (AO 2020-6), which State Director of Emergency Manager Patrick J. Callahan signed on March 30, 2020, the following is the list of essential retail businesses in accordance with paragraph 6 of EO 107:
- Child care centers, but only if approved by the State to operate as an emergency chidcare center serving only the children of essential workers
- Mobile phone retail and repair shops
- Bicycle shops, but only to provide service and repair
- Livestock feed stores
- Nurseries and garden centers
- Farming equipment stores
- Grocery stores, convenience stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store
- Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries
- Medical supply stores
- Gas stations
- Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities
- Hardware and home improvement stores
- Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions
- Laundromats and dry-cleaning services
- Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years old
- Pet stores and other veterinary service locations
- Auto mechanics
- Printing and office supply shops
- Mail and delivery stores
- Liquor stores
In addition, the select businesses may operate with restrictions as follows:
- Realtors may schedule appointments to show real estate with individuals or families, but open houses are prohibited.
- Car dealers may continue to conduct online or remote sales, dealerships may deliver cars to purchasers, and purchasers may pick up cars curbside or in the dealership’s service lane. Dealerships may also remain open to provide auto maintenance and repair services.
- Federal firearms licensees can operate provided that all in-person sales or transfers be conducted by appointment only and during limited hours.
While continuing to operate, these essential retail businesses must make reasonable efforts to keep customers six feet apart and frequently use sanitizing products on common surfaces. When practicable, these businesses must provide pickup services outside or adjacent to their stores for goods ordered in advance online or by phone.
Any retail businesses not deemed “essential” must close their “brick and mortar” locations, but may continue to operate their online and telephone delivery services to the extent they are licensed to do so.
This amendment does not alter EO 107’s directive that all businesses (and nonprofit organizations), whether closed or open to the public, allow employees to work from home if they are able to do so. To the extent that such employees cannot perform functions remotely, businesses should operate with the minimal number of on-site employees as possible to ensure critical operations can continue and they must adhere to best social distancing practices.
Further, AO 2020-6 clarified that golf courses must remain closed, as they are considered recreational and entertainment businesses.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Critical information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar programs.