On March 4, 2022, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 292 lifting the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency effective March 7, 2022. EO 292 also formally lifts the statewide school and daycare mask mandate. However, the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 103 remains in place to ensure a smooth transition from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centers for Diseases and Control and Prevention (CDC) also recently updated its mask guidelines to represent realities on the ground. The CDC moved to a geographic and data-driven approach to its recommendations, based on the number of hospitalizations and incidences of positive test results. The CDC created a COVID-19 Community Level tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to implement based on data. The tool identifies communities in a LOW, MEDIUM or HIGH category, which determines the recommendations for mask wearing.
Currently, only individuals who live in a HIGH community level are recommended to wear masks indoors in a public setting. Current data shows that New Jersey is primarily in a LOW community level with few counties at the MEDIUM level. Individuals in a LOW community level can wear a mask based on their personal preference, informed by their personal level of risk.
While employees and customers are no longer required to wear masks and social distance, dealerships are free to require stricter mask polices to meet their individual needs. Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to protect workers from workplace hazards that can cause illness or injury and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees.
The State of New Jersey continues to recommend specific safety guidelines for businesses to ensure protection from and stop the spread of COVID-19. Although not mandatory, dealerships can choose from the following public health and safety recommendations to protect employees and customers:
- Businesses are encouraged to follow CDC safety guidelines and social distancing to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Masks are not required for most indoor workplaces; however, businesses should encourage unvaccinated employees, customers, and guests to wear masks.
- If masks or gloves are required by employers, businesses are encouraged to provide them to employees.
- Businesses are encouraged to provide approved sanitization materials for employees and visitors at no cost.
- Employees should practice hand hygiene and employers should provide employees with sufficient break time for that purpose.
- Routine cleaning and disinfection of all high-touch areas of the showroom and service waiting areas is encouraged in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines.
- Sanitize vehicles before and after service, test drives and upon delivery.
- Prior to each shift, employers are encouraged to conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance.
- Employers are encouraged to keep sick employees from entering the workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws.
- Employers should promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite.
NJ CAR recommends that dealerships assess their individual circumstances and choose the best path that protects employees and customers while considering the requirements of OSHA.
Additional information on New Jersey safety guidelines for businesses may be found at https://covid19.nj.gov/faqs/nj-information/reopening-guidance-and-restrictions/are-there-safety-guidelines-for-businesses-are-any-businesses-closed.
Additional information on the CDC mask guidelines and to monitor your County’s community level may be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.