Governor Phil Murphy, yesterday, signed Executive Order 151 which extends the Public Health Emergency, originally declared on March 9, 2020, for another 30 days. Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, a declared public health emergency expires after 30 days unless it is renewed. Gov. Murphy has renewed the order twice already, with Executive Order 151 representing the third extension.
The Governor also recently signed Executive Order 150 which loosens restrictions on “non-essential retail” and allows such businesses to reopen on Monday, June 15. It also orders that non-essential retail businesses follow the public health and social distancing requirements that essential retail businesses, like car dealership service departments and showrooms, have been following for weeks.
Executive Order 150 makes no mention of the by-appointment-only requirement implemented under Administrative Order 2020-13, which currently applies to showroom sales activity at new car dealerships. As a result, starting on June 15, it appears that any retail establishment (other than a car dealership) would be permitted to engage walk-in customers without an appointment, so long as that retailer limits traffic to 50% of its maximum capacity and follows all other applicable public health guidelines (e.g., social distancing, face masks, etc.). Subjecting dealerships to a more restrictive customer engagement policy than non-essential retail operations is counterintuitive and counterproductive.
NJ CAR has sent a letter to Governor Murphy and the State Police requesting clarification on the continuation of by-appointment-only sales restriction imposed on dealerships under AO 2020-13. Specifically, we are asking that the by-appointment-only requirement be lifted, so that dealerships can conduct efficient sales activity at the same level as every other essential and non-essential retail business in the State.
NJ CAR will continue to keep dealers informed of any developments.