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Labor & Employment Law

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Governor Murphy Takes Action in Response to Second Wave of COVID-19

October 29, 2020

In response to the second wave of COVID-19, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order effective at 6AM on November 5, 2020, which expands employers’ obligations during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Executive Order applies to all businesses, non-profits, governmental entities, and educational entities that have any staff physically present at a worksite.

Social Distancing is Required

Employers must require that individuals at the worksite maintain six feet of distance from one another to the maximum extent possible. This includes during worksite meetings, orientation, or similar activities that traditionally brought individuals together in close proximity, and includes common areas such as restrooms, breakrooms, and entrances. When six feet of distance cannot be maintained, employers must require employees to wear masks and must install physical barriers whenever possible.

Masks are Required

Employers must require employees, customers, visitors, and anyone else entering the worksite to wear masks, either cloth or disposable, unless the individual is under the age of two. There are exceptions for eating and drinking or when the service provided by the employer cannot be performed on an individual wearing a mask.

Employees may be permitted to remove face masks when they are at their workstations more than six feet from anyone else or alone in a walled office. 

Employers must provide either cloth or disposable masks to employees at the employer’s expense, although employees may choose to wear their own masks. Employers may deny entry to the workplace for an employee who declines to wear a mask unless otherwise prohibited by law. An employer should engage in the interactive process required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to determine reasonable accommodations for any employee who cannot wear a mask because of a disability, and may require medical documentation of that disability.

Employers may deny entry to the premises to any customer or visitor who refuses to wear a mask, except that the employer may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a visitor who cannot wear a mask due to a disability. Employers are not permitted to require visitors to provide medical documentation of a disability unless otherwise permitted by law

The above mask requirements do not apply to school districts and providers of education-related activities covered by Executive Order 175. 

Cleaning and Sanitizing is Required

Employers must provide hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes with at least 60% alcohol to employees, customers, and visitors at the employer’s expense. Employers must also ensure that employees practice regular hand hygiene, including providing break time for handwashing and access to handwashing facilities. Employers may require employees to wear gloves and, if they choose to do so, must provide the gloves.

Employers must ensure that all high-touch areas are routinely cleaned and disinfected in compliance with CDC guidelines.

In addition to these requirements, employers must conduct daily health checks of employees, which could be done by temperature screenings or self-assessment checklists or questionnaires. Employers must send employees who appear to have symptoms home from work immediately. Employers must notify all employees of any known COVID-19 exposure at the worksite and clean and disinfect the worksite following any COVID exposure.

Employers who provide emergency services, health services, safety services, and other essential services may be exempted from the requirements above if necessary to operate.

Employers who fail to abide by this Executive Order may be investigated by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and may be closed for non-compliance. The Executive Order does not create a private right of action against employers for violations.

The full text of Executive Order 192 can be found here.

Riker Danzig is here to help if you need assistance of any kind. Please do not hesitate to contact Scott OhnegianAdam McInerneyFiona Cousland, or any member of Riker Danzig's Labor & Employment Group regarding any specific legal issue affecting your business.  

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Adam J. McInerney

Scott A. Ohnegian

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