New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (A5820/S3866) and Executive Order (EO) No. 244 on June 4, 2021, ending the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (but not the overall state of emergency) first declared on March 9, 2020, in EO 103. As a result of this action, most of the executive orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic expired on July 4, 2021.
EO 192 (signed on October 28, 2020), which established certain health and safety protocols (including face-covering requirements, social distancing practices, daily health screenings, and sanitization directives) for worksites, has now expired for most employers. As such, employers are no longer required to conduct daily screenings or adhere to the other mitigation measures set forth in EO 192 (though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that employers continue to do so). However, certain state-regulated employers (e.g., childcare facilities, camps, elementary and secondary schools, long-term care facilities, and healthcare facilities) must continue to adhere to the health and safety requirements set forth by the state.
It is unclear whether unvaccinated employees working in indoor private worksites, such as offices, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities, are still required to socially distance and wear face coverings. EO 243 (signed on May 26, 2021) lifted the masking and social distancing requirements for employees who provide proof that they are fully vaccinated, but it mandated that employees who failed to show proof that they were fully vaccinated would have to continue to wear face coverings and socially distance in common areas. EO 243 is not contained in the list from the June 4, 2021, press release of 14 executive orders that remain in effect until January 1, 2022, and it is unclear whether it expired on July 4, 2021. Governor Murphy indicated that EO 243 had expired, stating in his July 2, 2021, press release that “masking, social distancing, and other health and safety protocols … will no longer be mandatory across businesses and facilities, regardless if they are open to the public or not.” While it may no longer be a requirement, the state and the CDC recommends unvaccinated employees or employees who refuse to provide proof of vaccination to continue to wear a mask and adhere to social distancing practices in indoor workplaces.
In sum, New Jersey employers operating indoor private worksites are no longer required to conduct daily screenings of workers or adhere to the other mitigation measures originally set forth in EO 192. Also, it appears that employees in indoor private worksites are no longer required to wear face coverings and social distance regardless of whether they show proof that they are fully vaccinated. Although New Jersey has lifted daily screening, masking, and social distancing requirements, the state still recommends that employers adhere to them.
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. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.