By: Chantal N Guerriero, Esq. and Ty Hyderally, Esq.
As one of the hardest-hit states in the country, New Jersians have added risks to assess when loosening the state’s current restrictions on businesses. In the wake of Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders 133 and 143, which collectively reopened state parks and forests and granted counties the discretion to reopen their parks, beaches, lakes, and boardwalks, on Monday, May 18, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 147 (“Order 147”). Order 147 will effectively phase in looser restrictions for certain businesses in the state of New Jersey.
Specifically, wherever possible, payments, reservations, and cancellations are to be done remotely. Capacity is to be limited to groups of no more than ten (10) at a time, physical barriers between groups and service counters are to be installed wherever feasible, and rented equipment is not to be shared. Furthermore, general sanitization and social distancing practices are to continue at these facilities, and ‘high touch’ areas such as door knobs and bathrooms are to be routinely disinfected.
Order 147 also provides for several guidelines for the protection of employees of such facilities which reopen. This includes implementing physical barriers where practical, and immediately separating and sending home workers who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. Order 147 also requires employers to immediately notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite and to clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when a worker at the site as been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The aforementioned restrictions required by business permitting to reopen under Order 147 provide a glimpse of how businesses which remain closed will be required to operate once they finally reopen. Unsurprisingly, the Order sets forth strict orders that employers are required to follow in resuming their operations safely. Employees who return to such work sites should thus be on the lookout to ensure that their employers are operating in compliance with Order 147, as failure to do so would constitute a direct violation of the Executive Order. Furthermore, employees who voice their objections or concerns to their employer’s failure to comply with the order should be aware that there may be certain legal protections if and when such employers retaliate against the objecting employee.
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