Gov. Orders Residents to Stay Home, Closes Non-Essential Businesses

Gov. Phil Murphy announces the latest coronavirus restrictions. (Courtesy of New Jersey Governor's Office)

To mitigate the impact of coronavirus and protect New Jersey’s health care system for the state’s most vulnerable people, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Saturday directing all residents to stay at home until further notice.

There are certain exceptions, such as obtaining essential goods or services, seeking medical attention, visiting family or close friends, reporting to work or engaging in outdoor activities.

In addition, the order prohibits all social gatherings and mandates work-from-home arrangements for employees when possible. It also invalidates any conflicting local and county regulations

The order takes effect 9 p.m. Saturday.

“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 in a statement. “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 an effort to strengthen the existing social distancing measures in place, the order also prohibits all gatherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations or other social events.

When 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.

The governor is also closing all non-essential retail businesses to the public, with the exceptions of:

  • 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
  • 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 will limit 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.

Examples of employees who need to be present at their work site 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 cease in-person instruction.

The governor also signed an executive order that invalidates any county or municipal restriction that might conflict with any of the state provisions.

The only exceptions are two categories over which municipalities or counties may impose any additional restrictions: online marketplaces for arranging or offering lodging and municipal or county parks.