What are the “stay at home” rules in New Jersey? What businesses are closed?

To mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect the capacity of New Jersey’s health care system for the state’s most vulnerable, the State of New Jersey has directed all residents to stay at home until further notice. The order provides for certain exceptions, such as:

  • obtaining essential goods or services,
  • seeking medical attention,
  • visiting family or close friends,
  • reporting to work, and
  • engaging in outdoor activities.

All gatherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events, unless otherwise authorized, are prohibited. When in public, individuals must practice social distancing and stay at least six feet apart whenever possible, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners. Beginning Friday, April 10, all businesses still open must adopt mitigation requirements as required by Executive Order No. 122 and as described here.

Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders direct the closure of all non-essential retail businesses and all recreational and entertainment businesses. Additionally, effective Friday, April 10 at 8 pm, all non-essential construction projects must stop.

Essential construction is defined here.

Essential retail businesses which are allowed to remain open to the public are:

  • Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store;
  • Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
  • Medical supply stores;
  • Gas stations;
  • Convenience stores;
  • Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
  • Hardware and home improvement stores;
  • Banks and other financial institutions;
  • Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
  • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years;
  • Pet stores;
  • Liquor stores;
  • Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, to deliver online purchases directly to customers, or to arrange for curbside pickup;
  • Printing and office supply shops;
  • Mail and delivery stores;
  • Bars and restaurants for drive-through, delivery, and takeout only;
  • Mobile phone retail and repair shops (added 3/24/20);
  • Bicycle shops, but only to provide service and repair (added 3/24/20);
  • Livestock feed stores (added 3/24/20);
  • Nurseries and garden centers (added 3/24/20);
  • Farming equipment stores (added 3/24/20);
  • Child care centers, but only if they certify by Friday, March 27 that they will only serve children of essential workers starting April 1 (added 3/25/20);
  • Realtors, but only to show houses 1-on-1 (open houses are prohibited) (added 3/30/20);
  • Firearms retailers, by appointment only and during limited hours (added 3/30/20);
  • Microbreweries or brewpubs for home delivery only (added 3/30/20);

Businesses Required to Close:

Non-Essential Retail: If your business is a retail business that operates with a physical location that the public accesses your services from, you must close your business to the public. Delivery and online operations of retail businesses may continue.

Non-Essential Construction (effective April 10 at 8 pm): Non-essential construction projects, as defined here, must stop.

Recreational and Entertainment Businesses
Recreational and entertainment business must close. These include:

  • Casino gaming floors, including retail sports wagering lounges, and casino concert and entertainment venues;
  • Racetracks, including stabling facilities and retail sports wagering lounges;
  • Gyms and fitness centers and classes;
  • Golf courses;
  • Entertainment centers, including but not limited to, movie theaters, performing arts centers, other concert venues, and nightclubs;
  • All indoor portions of retail shopping malls. Restaurants and other stores located within shopping malls that have their own external entrances open to the public may continue offering only food delivery and/or take-out services.
  • All places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions.
  • Facilities where personal care services are performed that, by their very nature, result in noncompliance with social distancing guidelines, including but not limited to cosmetology shops; barber shops; beauty salons; hair braiding shops; nail salons; electrology facilities; spas, including day spas and medical spas, at which solely elective and cosmetic medical procedures are performed; massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo parlors, and public and private social clubs, whether or not they serve alcohol, including but not limited to facilities owned or operated by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Knights of Columbus, and any other social clubs associated with community service organizations. This excludes any health facilities that provide medically necessary or therapeutic services.
  • All municipal, county, and State public libraries, and all libraries and computer labs at public and private colleges and universities.

Non-retail businesses may stay open, but must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements and must abide by enhanced mitigation requirements.

Simply put, people should not be outside of their home unless they absolutely need to be. For example, professional service firms — such as law firms, accounting firms, etc. — may continue to operate, but must accommodate their employees working from home. If a business or nonprofit has employees that must be on site, it must reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure critical operations can continue.

Examples of employees who need to be present at their work site in order to perform their job duties include, but are not limited to:

  • law enforcement officers
  • fire fighters
  • other first responders
  • cashiers or store clerks
  • construction workers
  • utility workers
  • repair workers
  • warehouse workers
  • lab researchers
  • IT maintenance workers
  • janitorial and custodial staff
  • certain administrative staff

Nothing in Executive Order No. 107 limits:

  1. the provision of health care or medical services
  2. access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks
  3. the operations of the media
  4. law enforcement agencies
  5. the operations of the federal government.

Executive Order No. 108 invalidates any county or municipal restriction that in any way will or might conflict with any of the provisions of Executive Order No. 107, the “stay at home” order. Municipalities or counties cannot 1) make any additions to or deletions from the list of essential retail businesses; 2) impose any additional limitations on businesses beyond the Governor’s Order; 3) impose any additional density or social distancing requirements; or 4) impose any additional restrictions on freedom of movement. The only exceptions over which municipalities or counties may impose any additional restrictions are: 1) online marketplaces for arranging or offering lodging; 2) municipal or county parks; and 3) local beaches and boardwalks.

For additional information on COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus and its impact on businesses, please visit the State of New Jersey business portal at https://cv.business.nj.gov.

Updated: 4/8/20