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Dear Member:

Many of you read headlines over the weekend that New Jersey has been closed down for business.

This is an overstatement and let me explain why.

First and foremost, NJBIA understands the need to put public health first in confronting the coronavirus. However, while Governor Murphy did sign an Executive Order (EO) to shelter in place, the order does permit residents to leave their home for a variety of reasons, one of which is work.

So if your company is open, you are permitted to go to work. We are encouraging our employers to give their employees a letter expressing that they are permitted to work under the EO. Also a significant amount of business is being transacted remotely keeping many businesses able to sustain their operations, without a brick and mortar presence.

So who is open and who is closed?

The (EO) spells this out along with FAQs providing even more guidance. At its core, all RETAIL establishments were told to close unless they were defined as “essential.”

Per the EO, the following are expressly specified as “essential” and this list is fairly expansive:

  • Grocery stores, farmers’ 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; Vehicle rental locations; Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions; Laundromats and dry-cleaning services; Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years; Pet stores; Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics; Printing and office supply shops; Mail and delivery stores; and Liquor stores.

Non-essential RETAIL businesses that need to close under the EO were listed in the EO as the following:

  • Casinos; Racetracks; Gyms and fitness centers; Entertainment centers such as movie theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, and nightclubs; Indoor portions of retail shopping malls; and Places of public amusement. Businesses may continue any on-line operations.
  • Personal-care businesses that by their very nature result in noncompliance with social distancing, including: Barbershops; Hair salons; Spas; Nail and eyelash salons; Tattoo parlors; Massage parlors; Tanning salons; and Public and private social clubs.
  • Bars and restaurants in New Jersey must be closed for on-premises service and may provide takeout and delivery service only. Drive-throughs, takeout, delivery offered by restaurants, and other delivery services can continue to operate.

The EO also states All OTHER businesses and nonprofits are asked to work remotely as possible, keep a minimal number of people in the actual building as only necessary to carry out the critical functions of the business, and those in the building are to exercise social distancing.

  • Examples of such employees include 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.
  • Manufacturing, industrial, logistics, ports, heavy construction, shipping, food production, food delivery, and other commercial operations may continue operating, but as explained above, they should limit staff on site to the minimal number to ensure that essential operations can continue.
  • Medical facilities may continue to operate. Medical facilities include any facility where a sick or injured person is given care or treatment, such as: doctor’s offices, hospitals, dentist offices, long-term care facilities, and other medical offices.

So today’s message is: New Jersey is not closed for business. Rather, New Jersey businesses are adapting to the requirements they face and are doing their absolute best to continue operations under a “new norm,” ensuring health and safety first, while recognizing the need to keep our economy ticking. 

This is also a time to recognize that the people who are showing up to work are our heroes. It’s crucial to know that our great state cannot stay operational without its workforce. So take a moment to celebrate all of the workers who are showing up during this crisis.

In the meantime, please see my OpEd in the Asbury Park Press from over the weekend – where we discuss the urgent need for New Jersey businesses to get financial assistance and tax breaks during this extremely challenging time.

A final reminder today that NJBIA continues to update our own resources page which includes a form for you to ask us questions directly. Our Government Affairs and Membership staff are here to answer those questions in real time!

Stay well,

Michele N. Siekerka, Esq.
President and CEO