A guide to COVID-19 restrictions imposed on businesses (updated)

Daniel J. Munoz//March 25, 2020//

A guide to COVID-19 restrictions imposed on businesses (updated)

Daniel J. Munoz//March 25, 2020//

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The Murphy administration imposed a series of restrictions on business in an effort to promote “social distancing” and slow the spread of COVID-19. The following is a list of those limits, which will be updated as necessary.

Mandatory closures

  • Casinos, theaters, gyms, bars and dine-in restaurants, effective March 16 at 8 p.m. Take-out and delivery is still permitted.
  • Indoor and outdoor amusement spaces, such as malls, amusement parks, arcades and bowling alleys, effective March 17 at 8 p.m. On March 30, Murphy reiterated golf courses are considered recreational and must remain closed.
  • Personal care businesses, such as barber shops, salons and tattoo parlors, effective March 19 at 8 p.m. These restrictions were tightened on April 27, to prohibit such services from being offered out of someone’s home – except for family and close relationships, such as romantic partners; “prior business relationships” do not count.

On March 23, Murphy ordered the suspension of any medical and dental elective surgeries and invasive procedures scheduled after 5 p.m. on March 27, provided that their delay won’t harm the patient.

Effective April 5, towns on the Jersey Shore can ban short-term rentals from accepting new guests, such as at hotels, motels and private residences.

Effective 8 p.m. on April 10, all “non-essential” construction must cease operations. Essential projects include hospitals, schools, transportation, utilities, affordable housing, emergency repairs, and housing where workers can adhere to social distancing guidelines.

What can stay open

  • Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farm-to-table businesses
  • Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries
  • Gas stations and convenience stores
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Laundromats and dry-cleaning
  • Mail and delivery stores
  • Automobile mechanic shops
  • Printing and office supply shops
  • Hardware and home improvement stores
  • Businesses that sell childcare supplies
  • Pet stores and veterinarians
  • Liquor stores
  • Mobile phone retail and repair shops
  • Bicycle shops (for service and repair only)
  • Livestock feed stores
  • Nurseries and garden centers
  • Farming equipment stores
  • On March 25, Murphy signed Executive Order No. 110, requiring child care centers to close April 1, unless they are serving the children of essential workers
  • Car dealerships may perform online and remote sales, and allow for curbside or service lane pickup; test driving is allowed by appointment only, so long as the patron has access to the vehicle alone, and the car is cleaned down after each test that it is not purchased
  • Realtors offering one-on-one tours (open-houses on homes for sale are prohibited)
  • Gun stores, but by appointment only and operating on limited hours
  • Microbreweries and distilleries; the former can provide home delivery, the latter is open for curbside pick-up
  • Retailers selling items “necessary for religious observance”
  • Pet groomers, daycares and boarders

Any commercial business or nonprofit that has its employees work from home rather than at the office, or makes the effort to have as few employees working on site as possible, can stay open.

On April 8, Murphy signed an executive order limiting essential retailer capacity to 50 percent normal allotments and requiring all customers and employee to wear face masks. Stores must also designate special hours for at-risk groups, such as senior citizens.

Effective April 13 at 8:00 p.m., restaurants and other eateries offering takeout must limit the number of of customers in their stores to 10 percent of maximum capacity and provide face masks and gloves to all workers; customers must also wear face coverings.

Who can travel

While Murphy’s executive order, which went into effect on March 21, broadly restricts who is allowed to leave their homes and travel, there are exceptions:

  • Law enforcement, firefighters and first responders
  • Media and press
  • Cashiers and store clerks
  • Construction, repair and utility workers
  • Warehouse and manufacturing workers
  • Lab researchers
  • Information technology maintenance workers
  • Janitorial and custodial staff

Those who violate the orders could be charged with a disorderly persons offense, or a second, third or fourth-degree crime, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Murphy, on March 30, indicated he might want “to tighten the screws” even more with enforcement, as state residents find colorful ways to violate the stay-at-home order, following authorities’ citing illegal operations for a gym in Bridgeton, a barbershop in Woodbridge and large gatherings across the state including weddings and house parties.

Effective April 13, New Jersey Transit and all private carriers must limit the number of riders on trains and buses to 50 percent maximum capacity, provide gloves and face masks to their employees, and require passengers to wear face masks.

Want to see what’s reopening? You can find our guide to to COVID-19 roll-backs here.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on March 31, 2020 at 8:33 a.m. EST to reflect amended and updated restrictions. It was updated at 1:25 p.m. EST on April 7, 2020 to include information regarding restrictions on short-term shore rentals. It was updated at 3:20 p.m. EST on April 8, 2020 to include restrictions on “non-essential” construction, and updated guidelines for essential retailers. It was updated at 7:32 a.m. EST on April 13, 2020 to include changes to transit and takeout capacities and new requirements for employees and customers to wear face coverings and gloves. It was updated at 7:42 a.m. EST on April 28, 2020 to include restrictions barring personal care businesses from providing services from a person’s home; to allow test driving of cars, under certain conditions; to allow for the sale of items “necessary for religious observance”; and for the operation of pet grooming, daycare and boarding businesses. This article was updated at 7:26 a.m. EST on May 15, 2020, to include a URL to the NJBIZ guide to state reopenings.