On April 8, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 122, which requires essential retail businesses that are still permitted to operate in New Jersey to adopt aggressive social distancing and disinfection measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Governor’s prior Executive Order 107, dealerships’ service departments are considered essential retail businesses. Thus, brick-and-mortar dealer service locations must comply with the requirements of the new Executive Order, set forth below. Moreover, dealerships are permitted to engage in “contactless” online sales under Administrative Order 2020-6. To the extent dealership employees are participating in such transactions (e.g., handling keys or deal paperwork or preparing a vehicle prior to delivery), they must also follow the requirements of the new Order. Executive Order 122 requires essential retail businesses to make several significant changes to their hours, physical location, and interactions with customers. Specifically, they must:
- Limit occupancy at 50% of the stated maximum store capacity, if applicable, at one time;
- Establish hours of operation, wherever possible, that permit access solely to high-risk individuals, as defined by the CDC (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html);
- Install a physical barrier, such as a shield guard, between customers and cashiers, wherever feasible, or otherwise ensure six feet of distance between those individuals, except at the moment of payment and/or exchange of goods;
- Require infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal;
- Provide employees break time for repeated handwashing throughout the workday;
- Arrange for contactless pay options, pickup, and/or delivery of goods wherever feasible. Such policies shall, wherever possible, consider populations that do not have access to Internet service;
- Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, to staff and customers;
- Require frequent sanitization of high-touch areas like restrooms, credit card machines, keypads, counters and shopping carts;
- Place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the store, if applicable, alerting staff and customers to the required six (6) feet of physical distance;
- Demarcate six (6) feet of spacing in check-out lines to demonstrate appropriate spacing for social distancing; and
- Require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings while on the premises, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two (2) years of age.
- Require workers to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods.
- Where an individual declines to wear a face covering on store premises due to a medical condition that inhibits such usage, neither the essential retail business nor its staff shall require the individual to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition.
- Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings and gloves for their employees. However, workers or visitors can wear their own surgical-grade mask or other more protective face covering if they are already in possession of such equipment
- If a customer refuses to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons and if such covering cannot be provided to the individual by the business at the point of entry, then the business must decline entry to the individual.
The Order also contains a specific directive on how essential retail businesses must deal with sick employees. Namely, it requires that such businesses:
- Immediately separate and send home workers who appear to have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 illness upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day;
- Promptly notify workers of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite, consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and any other applicable laws;
- Clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when a worker at the site has been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html); and
- Continue to follow guidelines and directives issued by the New Jersey Department of Health (See https://covid19.nj.gov/), the CDC (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html), and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (see https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf), as applicable, for maintaining a clean, safe and healthy work environment.
Finally, essential retail businesses must adopt the following cleaning protocols in areas where operations are conducted:
- Clean and disinfect high-touch areas routinely in accordance with CDC guidelines, particularly in spaces that are accessible to staff, customers, or other individuals, and ensure cleaning procedures following a known or potential exposure in a facility are in compliance with CDC recommendations (see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html);
- Otherwise maintain cleaning procedures in all other areas of the facility; and
- Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of workers to perform the above protocols effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of occupants, visitors, and workers.
Violating this new Executive Order is a disorderly persons offense, which carries fines and jail time. Governor Murphy also stated during his April 8, 2020 press conference that widespread violations of the new Order would result in further restrictions for essential retail businesses.
NJ CAR will provide updates on this Executive Order as more information becomes available.