Grocery stores, hardware stores and other essential retailers must limit customers to 50 percent of their approved capacity, and all customers and employees must wear face coverings, per an executive order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy Wednesday.
Stores must also provide special hours for high-risk individuals, erect physical barriers between customers and cashiers, and regularly sanitize areas used by employees, Murphy said.
“Those with medical conditions or under the age of two are exempt from having to wear masks,” Murphy said at his daily COVID-19 briefing. “All workers are required to wear masks and gloves – costs which the businesses would have to incur.”
Under the order, stores will still have to let in customers who do not wear masks, and cannot deny them service. Rather, they could limit the amount of time that customer spends in the store, or their interaction with other patrons.
“I’m on the side of frankly you don’t come in,” Murphy said. “I’m sure counsel will pull me back to a slightly more reasonable place.”
Grocery chains across the state have implemented varying levels of restrictions to adhere to social distancing measures intended to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Stop & Shop announced Wednesday that customer limits will be based upon the square footage of the store, and that one-way grocery aisles would be implemented to both reinforce social distancing and improve traffic flow. Stop & Shop has had special hours for seniors since March 19.
“If we don’t see adherence to this,” Murphy said, referring to the customer limit, “you can assume that 50 percent will go down.”
Daniel J. Munoz contributed to this story.