Yesterday Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 104 instituting various closings and limiting social interaction in attempt to combat COVID-19. The Order:
- Limits all gatherings to 50 or fewer people. Excluded from this is normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, office environments, factories, industrial or manufacture work, construction sites, mass transit or the grocery store.
- Closes all public, private, and parochial preschool programs, elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools beginning March 18, 2020 until the Order is rescinded.
- Ceases in-person instruction at all institutes of higher education beginning March 18, 2020. The order does provide for the ability of the Secretary of Office of Higher Education to grant waivers.
- Authorizes the Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Health Commissioner, to permit schools to remain open on a limited basis for the provisions of food or other essential, non-educational services, or for education or child care services if needed in emergency situations.
- Authorizes the Commissioner of Education, after consulting with the Health Commissioner, to close any other career or training facilities over which the Department of Education oversees.
- Authorizes local school districts, charter schools, and renaissance schools, in consultation with Commissioner of Education, at their discretion, to determine home instruction arrangements on a case-by-case basis to ensure all students are provided with appropriate home instruction.
- Requires the Secretary of Agriculture, in conjunction with the Department of Education, take all necessary actions to ensure that all students eligible for free or reduced meals shall continue to receive the services or supports necessary to meet nutritional needs during the closures.
- Effective 8:00 p.m. Monday, March 16, 2020 the following facilities are ordered close to members of the public:
- Casino gaming floors, including retail sports wagering lounges, and casino concert and entertainment venues. Online and mobile sports and casino gaming services may continue to be offered.
- Racetracks, including stable facilities and retail sports wagering lounges. However, mobile sports wagering services may continue to be offered.
- Gyms and fitness centers and classes.
- Entertainment centers, including but not limited to, movie theaters, performing arts centers, other concert venues and nightclubs.
- Requires other non-essential retail, recreational and entertainment businesses to cease daily operations from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. From 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. these businesses may remain open but they must limit their occupancy to no more than 50 persons and adhere to social distancing. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, gas stations, healthcare facilities and ancillary stores within healthcare facilities, are exempted from this provision.
- Allows all restaurants, dining establishments, and food courts, with or without liquor licenses, all bars and other holders of retail consumption liquor license to operate under their normal business hours, but are limits them to offering only food delivery and/or take-out services. If alcoholic beverages are to be sold from the restaurant, dining establishment or bar with a liquor license, such sales are limited to original containers sold from the principal public barroom.
- Permits the State Director of Emergency Management, who is the Superintendent of State Police, to determine and control the direction of the flow of traffic on any state road, including municipal and county roads, if it deemed necessary for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the public.
- Prohibits municipalities and counties to enact or enforce any order, rule, regulation, ordinance, or resolution which will or might in any way conflict with this Executive Order. A letter issued by the Attorney General to law enforcement chief executives regarding EO 104 advises that law enforcement officers must exercise discretion to not enforce local ordinances such as restrictions on delivery times and noise ordinances in ways that would inhibit transportation companies from timely and effectively delivering needed supplies to essential businesses.
The Executive Order took effect immediately on March 16, 2020 and remains in effect until revoked or modified by Governor Murphy. Violations of the executive order can be enforced as disorderly persons offenses by county and local law enforcement.