Governor Murphy, on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, signed three Executive Orders, each dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak and with the goal of helping to “flatten the curve.” Below is a short explanation of each of these three Executive Orders.
Executive Order No. 120 – Postponement of June 2, 2020, Primary Election to July 7, 2020.
Executive Order No. 120 (EO 120) postpones and reschedules the federal and state primary elections, originally scheduled June 2, 2020, to Tuesday, July 7, 2020. In addition, any other election scheduled for a date on or between May 13, 2020, and July 7, 2020, is postponed and rescheduled for Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
With the primary elections being postponed and rescheduled for July 7, 2020, EO 120 also extends the deadlines for meeting statutory requirements for a primary election. All deadlines occurring after April 11, 2020, are now to be calculated using the July 7, 2020, primary election date.
Deadlines that occur prior to April 11, 2020, will continue to be calculated using the June 2, 2020 date. This includes but not limited to the filing deadline for candidate petitions for the primary election except for the party affiliation deadline under N.J.S.A. 19:23-45 shall be calculated based on the July 7, 2020, primary election date.
Petitions for direct nomination for the general election filed under N.J.S.A. 19:13-3 through -9 are now due by 4:00 p.m. on July 7, 2020. In addition, the electronic signature and submission requirements that have already been set forth in Executive Order No. 105 are extended to petitions for direct nominations for the general election.
EO 120 took effect immediately on April 8, 2020.
Executive Order No. 121 – Allowing Greater Weight Limits for Vehicles Carrying COVID-19 Relief Supplies.
Executive Order No. 121 (EO 121) allows vehicles carrying COVID-19 relief supplies to exceed current weight restrictions on certain roads. These roads include, with limited exceptions detailed in EO 121, the Interstates within the state, the NJ Turnpike from exit 105 Southbound, the Garden State Parkway, and the Atlantic City Expressway.
EO 121 does not allow for vehicles to exceed the weight limits on any other state, county, or local road, except for reasonable access to terminals as set forth in N.J.A.C. 16:32-1.5. And, EO 121 prohibits local authorities from passing or enforcing any regulations or prohibitions that would undermine the effectiveness of EO 121.
Vehicles seeking to exceed the current weight limits must apply for and receive a special permit available through a website made available by the State Department of Transportation.
EO 121 took effect at 9 pm on April 8, 2020, and expires 120 days from March 25, 2020, which is the date of the President’s major disaster declaration under the Stafford Act, unless otherwise rescinded, superseded or revised sooner by Governor Murphy.
Executive Order No. 122 – Ceasing all Non-Essential Construction Projects and Imposing Additional Mitigation Requirements on Essential Retail Businesses and Industries to Limit the Spread of COVID-19.
Executive Order No. 122 (EO 122) expands on the Governor’s previous Orders which sought to implement social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation efforts. EO 122 now sets new minimum mitigation requirements on any essential retail business that has been permitted to maintain in-person operations pursuant to Executive Order 107. These new minimum requirements include:
- Limiting occupancy at 50% of the stated maximum store occupancy, if applicable, at one time;
- Establishing hours of operation, wherever possible, that permit access solely to high-risk individuals as defined by the CDC;
- Installing physical barriers, such a shield guards, between customers and cashiers/baggers wherever feasible or otherwise ensure six feet of distance between those individuals, except at the moment of payment or exchange of goods;
- Requiring infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal;
- Providing employees break time for repeated handwashing throughout the workday;
- Arranging for contactless pay options, pickup, and/or delivery of goods whenever feasible. Taking into consideration populations that do not have access to internet service;
- Providing sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to staff and customers;
- Requiring frequent sanitization of high-touch areas such as restrooms, credit card machines, counters, and shopping carts;
- Placing conspicuous signage at the entrances and throughout the store, if applicable, alerting staff and customers to the required six feet of physical distance; and
- Requiring workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings while on the premises, unless doing so would inhibit that individual’s health, and require workers to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods.
Businesses must provide, at their expense, face coverings and gloves for their employees. If a customer refuses to wear a face-covering for a non-medical reason and the business cannot provide them with one at the point of entry, then the business must decline entry to the individual, unless the business is providing medicine, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide an alternate method of pickup and/or delivery of such goods. A business cannot require an individual who declines to wear a face mask for medical reasons to provide documentation of such medical conditions.
Manufacturing businesses, warehousing businesses, and businesses engaged in essential construction (as defined below) must adopt similar policies as the ones listed above for essential retail businesses.
In addition to placing new operational requirements on essential businesses, EO 122 also prohibits all non-essential construction from continuing. To that end EO 122 has defined “Essential Construction Projects” as:
- Projects necessary for the delivery of health care services, including but not limited to hospitals, other health care facilities, and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities;
- Transportation projects, including roads, bridges, and mass transit facilities;
- Utility projects, including those necessary for energy and electricity production and transmission, and any decommissioning of facilities used for electricity generation;
- Residential projects that are exclusively designated as affordable housing;
- Projects involving pre-K-12 schools, and projects involving higher education facilities;
- Projects already underway involving individual single-family homes where an individual already resides, with a construction crew of 5 or fewer individuals.
- Projects already underway involving a residential unit for which a tenant or buyer has already entered into a legally binding agreement to occupy the unit by a certain date, and construction is necessary to ensure the unit’s availability by that date;
- Projects involving facilities at which any one or more of the following takes place: the manufacture, distribution, storage, or servicing of goods or products that are sold by online retail businesses or essential retail businesses, as defined by Executive Order No. 107 (2020) and subsequent Administrative Orders adopted pursuant to that Order;
- Projects involving data centers or facilities that are critical to a business’s ability to function;
- Projects necessary for the delivery of essential social services, including homeless shelters;
- Any project necessary to support law enforcement agencies or first responder units in their response to the COVID-19 emergency;
- Any project that is ordered or contracted for by Federal, State, county, or municipal government, or any project that must be completed to meet a deadline established by the Federal government;
- Any work on a non-essential construction project that is required to physically secure the site of the project, ensure the structural integrity of any buildings on the site, abate any hazards that would exist on the site if the construction were to remain in its current condition, remediate a site, or otherwise ensure that the site and any buildings therein are appropriately protected and safe during the suspension of the project; and
- Any emergency repairs necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents.
All essential retail businesses, warehousing businesses, manufacturing businesses, and businesses performing essential construction projects must also adopt policies for dealing with workers showing symptoms of COVID-19 or workers who test positive. At a minimum, these requirements include:
- Immediately separating and sending home workers who appear to have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 illness upon arrival at work or who become sick during the day;
- Promptly notifying workers of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite, consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and any other applicable laws;
- Cleaning and disinfecting the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when a worker at the site has been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness; and
- Continuing to follow guidelines and directives issued by the New Jersey Department of Health, the CDC and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, as applicable, for maintaining a clean, safe and healthy work environment.
Penalties for violations of EO 122 can be imposed under, among other statutes, N.J.S.A. App. A:9-49 and 50. EO 122 becomes effective at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2020, and will remain in effect until revoked or modified by the Governor.