Governor orders NJ residents to stay at home as positive coronavirus cases jump to 1,327

The executive order also prohibits all social gatherings, mandates work from home arrangements for employees when possible, and invalidates any conflicting local and county regulations

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy today signed an executive order directing all residents to stay home until further notice. The order provides for certain exceptions, like obtaining essential goods or services including groceries, seeking medical attention, visiting family or close friends, reporting to work, or engaging in outdoor activities. 

Murphy made the announcement at a press briefing at Rutgers University in Newark on Saturday afternoon. He announced that since Friday, the state has received 442 new positive coronavirus test results, bringing the total number of positive test results confirmed by the state to 1,327. Five more New Jersey residents died as a result of complications due to the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in the state as a result of the virus to 16. The state received eight more positive test results Saturday for residents in Mercer County, bringing the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county to 30.

“From day one, we’ve made a commitment to be guided by the facts and take any action necessary to protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s nine million residents,” Murphy said. “We know the virus spreads through person-to-person contact, and the best way to prevent further exposure is to limit our public interactions to only the most essential purposes. This is a time for us all to come together in one mission to ‘flatten the curve’ and slow – and eventually halt – the spread of coronavirus.”

In effort to strengthen the existing social distancing measures in place, the order also prohibits all gatherings of individuals, including parties, celebrations, or other social events. In public, people must practice social distancing and stay at least six feet apart whenever possible, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners.

Murphy has directed the closure of all non-essential retail businesses to the public as of 9 p.m. Saturday, with the exceptions of:

  • 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, and auto mechanics;
  • Printing and office supply shops;
  • Mail and delivery stores.

Nothing in the order limits the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents such as food banks, the operations of the media, law enforcement agencies, or the operations of the federal government.

The order mandates that all businesses or non-profits, wherever practicable, must accommodate their workforce for telework or work-from-home arrangements. Businesses and non-profit should make best efforts to reduce staff on-site to the minimal number of people necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue. 

Examples of employees who need to be present in order to perform their job duties include law enforcement officers, firefighters, other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, IT maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.

The order continues existing bans on recreational and entertainment businesses, requirements that all restaurants operate by delivery and takeout only, and the directive that all pre-K, elementary, and secondary schools close and all institutions of higher education stop in-person instruction.

Municipalities or counties cannot make any additions to or deletions from the list of essential retail businesses or impose any additional limitations on businesses beyond the governor’s order. They also can’t impose any additional density or social distancing requirements or impose any additional restrictions on freedom of movement. The only exceptions are online marketplaces for arranging or offering lodging, and municipal or county parks.