By: Cristina N. Hyde, JD
Last month, Governor Murphy signed two new executive orders that relaxed several restrictions originally designed to limit person-to-person contact during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Citing recent statistics showing significant progress in the battle against the coronavirus, Executive Order No. 242 and Executive Order No. 243 specifically address masking and social distancing in the workplace and substantially rescind work-from-home requirements.
As we cautiously move forward and reopen our worksites, here is what employers and employees need to know:
- Businesses and non-profits are no longer required to accommodate their workforce with telework and work-from-home arrangements.
- Businesses and non-profits who cannot provide telework or work-from-home opportunities are no longer required to continue “best efforts” to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations continue.
- The new rules differentiate among worksites that are “open” or “closed” to the public and do not supersede any requirements for certain settings such as health care facilities and public transportation.
- An indoor space is considered “open to the public” if engages in the sale of goods or the provision of services to the public or is used as a venue for events or activities. Therefore, the indoor worksites of employers who do not engage in these activities are considered “closed to the public”.
- If a worksite is open to the public, employees, customers, and guests are no longer required to wear masks unless the employer or individual overseeing the worksite chooses to maintain stricter requirements.
- If a worksite is closed to the public:
- Employers are not mandated to require employees to wear masks or practice social distancing so long as the employee can provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.
- Employees must continue to wear masks and practice social distancing where it is determined they are not fully vaccinated or if their vaccination status cannot be determined.
- Employers may, but do not have to, permit customers, visitors, and other authorized individuals to enter the worksite without requiring the use of a mask or the practice of social distancing regardless of vaccination status.
In all cases, employers or individuals overseeing worksites may not restrict individuals from wearing masks and may not penalize them or retaliate against them for doing so. Also, employers must continue to abide by other COVID-19 protocols outlined in Executive Order No. 192 which include routine cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas and daily health checks.
Additional guidance on reopening safety precautions can be found at New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub.  Meanwhile, if you have any questions regarding reopening your business or would like assistance reevaluating your current mask and social distancing policies, Contact Us.