New Executive Order Increases Mitigation Requirements on ‘Essential’ Businesses & Stops All ‘Non-Essential’ Construction In New Jersey
On April 8, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 122 (the Order) strengthening mitigation requirements on essential retail, manufacturing, and warehousing businesses and certain building owners, while also banning all non-essential construction projects. The Order is designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey by reinforcing social distancing guidelines, reducing public interactions, and enhancing cleaning measures. The Order grants the Superintendent of the State Police the discretion to make any additions, amendments, clarifications, exceptions, and/or exclusions to the terms of the Order. The Order will take effect April 10, 2020, at 8 p.m. and penalties may be imposed under various New Jersey statutes for violations under the Order. A link to the Order can be found here.
Policies and Procedures Certain Businesses and Building Owners Must Implement
Requirements Specific to Essential Retail Businesses. The Order requires stores to implement enhanced safety and cleaning measures designed to protect the health and welfare of its employees and customers. For example, stores must now, among other things, require employees and customers to wear face coverings unless the individual is medically unable to or is under 2 years old, require employees to wear gloves, limit their occupancy to 50% at one time, carve out hours of operation for high-risk individuals, implement contactless procedures with customers, require infection control practices, install a shield guard between customers and cashiers/baggers, and enforce social distancing. The employer must cover the costs for the employees’ face coverings and gloves.
Requirements Specific to Manufacturing Businesses, Warehousing Businesses, and Businesses Engaged in Essential Construction Projects. The Order mandates that these types of businesses must adopt enhanced safety and cleaning measures designed to protect the health and welfare of its workers and visitors. For example, these types of businesses must now, among other things, require workers to wear gloves, require workers and visitors to wear face coverings unless the individual is medically unable to or is under 2 years old, stagger work shifts and breaks, enforce social distancing, require infection control practices, limit the sharing of tools and equipment, and limit meetings to no more than 9 individuals. Similar to retail businesses, the Order requires these types of businesses to cover the costs for the worker’s face coverings and gloves.
Requirements Specific to Essential Retail Businesses, Manufacturing Businesses, Warehousing Businesses, and Businesses Engaged in Essential Construction Projects. The Order also mandates additional procedures that these types of businesses must implement when faced with individuals who either have or are suspected of having COVID-19 to protect the safety and welfare of its employees, visitors, and customers. For example, these businesses must send home workers displaying COVID-19 symptoms, notify workers of any workplace exposure, engage in enhanced premises cleaning following a workplace exposure, and follow all government guidance on maintaining a safe and healthy workplace.
Requirements Specific to Owners of Buildings Used for Certain Operations. Where a business is authorized to maintain operations, the Order imposes strict cleaning procedures on owners of buildings used for commercial, industrial or other enterprises to protect the health and safety of individuals who access such facilities. For example, these building are required to follow CDC guidelines on maintaining a safe and healthy facility.
All Non-Essential Construction Projects Must Cease Operation
The Order bans all non-essential construction projects because construction sites are difficult environments to enforce social distancing. To clarify which projects are non-essential, the Order provides a definition of “essential construction projects,” which includes fourteen different types of construction projects. For example, essential construction projects include, among other projects, projects necessary for the delivery of health care services, transportation projects, utility projects, projects involving pre-K-12 schools, projects involving residential units where the project is already underway and the tenant or buyer has already entered into a legal agreement to occupy the unit by a certain date, and residential projects that are exclusively designated as affordable housing.
Ballard Spahr’s Labor and Employment Group is following closely these and other developments related to COVID-19 as they impact the workforce. If you have questions, please contact any member of the Labor and Employment Group for advice about your situation.
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