On April 27, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced guidance on lifting the stay-at-home restrictions he implemented on March 21, 2020. Governor Murphy’s The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health through Public Health (“the Plan”) provides six principles to guide the State in easing its stay-at-home restrictions; however, the Plan does not provide any specific dates on which the restrictions will be lifted nor does it provide any additional restrictions that will be implemented.

The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health through Public Health

Governor Murphy explained the following six principles and key metrics to guide the State’s decisions in easing or lifting existing restrictions:

  1. Demonstrate sustained reduction in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Specifically, the Plan provides that 14-day trend lines should show an appreciable and sustained drop in cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics. Hospitals should no longer be functioning under crisis standards of care.
  2. Expand Testing Capacity. The Plan calls for doubling the State’s diagnostic testing, and the ability to have priority testing for health care workers, essential personnel, and vulnerable populations.
  3. Implement Robust Contact Tracing. Under the Plan, the State will recruit and deploy an army of personnel who will identify and follow-up with individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
  4. Secure Safe Places and Resources for Isolation and Quarantine. This principle calls for providing individuals who do test positive in the future with a safe and free place to isolate and protect others from COVID-19.
  5. Execute a Responsible Economic Restart. This principle calls for the creation of Restart and Recovery Commission to advise on restarting the State’s economy. Specifically, the Plan calls for a methodical and strategic return to work based on the level of disease transmission risk and essential classifications while continuing social distance measures where feasible and appropriate. The Plan also calls for the use of any available federal funds and programs to support health care, individual, and small business recoveries.
  6. Ensure New Jersey’s Resiliency. Under the last principle, the State would prepare for the possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases by ensuring hospitals, health care systems, and other health delivery facilities have inventories of personal protective equipment and ventilators. The State would also build its own personal protective equipment and ventilator stockpile

Also, although not specifically referencing the Plan, on May 13, 2020, Governor Murphy announced that nonessential retail businesses could reopen for curbside pickup and nonessential construction could resume effective May 18, 2020

Takeaway For Employers

As demonstrated above, the Plan does not provide specific details regarding when certain business and industries will reopen nor does it provide specific restrictions and/or guidelines that businesses will have to follow upon opening other than a general reference to social distancing where appropriate. Although employers should plan ahead by thinking of reopening plans and protocols, advice from the Restart and Recovery Commission will likely affect those plans. Employers will also need to take into account federal guidelines, such as those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) in reducing employee exposure to COVID-19. In our previous alert, Employer Guidelines to Gradually Reopen After Stay-At-Home Orders Lifted, we outlined and summarized the CDC’s guidance on reducing exposure to employees in the workplace.

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If you have any questions regarding this alert, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson LLP


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