Governor Murphy Lifts Major COVID-19 Restrictions – Businesses Take Note

May 24, 2021

Governor Murphy Lifts Major COVID-19 Restrictions – Businesses Take Note

On May 24, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 242, lifting major COVID-19 restrictions and moving forward with the state’s most significant reopening steps to date. Effective on Friday, May 28, the indoor mask mandate in public spaces will be lifted, as well as the six-foot social distancing requirement in both indoor and outdoor spaces, the prohibition on dance floors at bars and restaurants, and the prohibition on ordering and eating / drinking while standing at bars and restaurants. Additionally, effective Friday, June 4, indoor gathering and capacity limits will be lifted. As we have been advised, the new EO currently does maintain an indoor masking requirement for private business settings where employees are not interacting with the public.

The following changes will go into effect on Friday, May 28:

     * The statewide indoor mask mandate in indoor public spaces is lifted.

     –Businesses and entities overseeing indoor spaces will continue to have the ability to require masking for employees, customers, and/or guests.

     –Per CDC guidance, masks will continue to be required in health care settings, including long-term care facilities and office-based settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation, as well as transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

     –Additionally, also per CDC guidance, child care centers and facilities, youth summer camps, and public, private, and parochial preschool program premises and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, are not affected by this announcement and continue to be governed by existing requirements.

     –Indoor worksites that are not open to the public remain governed by existing health and safety protocols that employers must follow.

     –Masks will continue to be required in public-facing state offices, such as Motor Vehicle Commission agencies.

     * The six-foot social distancing requirement will also be lifted.

     –The requirement will be lifted in businesses, including retail stores, personal care services, gyms, recreational and entertainment businesses, and casinos, and indoor gatherings, including religious services, political activities, weddings, funerals, memorial services, commercial gatherings, catered events, sports competitions, and performances.

     –Businesses and entities overseeing indoor spaces can continue to require social distancing should they choose.

     * Lifting prohibition on dance floors at bars and restaurants. The prohibition on ordering and eating / drinking while standing at bars and restaurants will also be lifted.

The following changes will go into effect Friday, June 4:

     * Removing the general indoor gathering limit, which is currently at 50 people.

     * Removing the indoor gathering limit for political gatherings, weddings, funerals, memorial services, performances, and other catered and commercial events, which is currently at 250 people.

     * Removing 30 percent capacity limitation for indoor large venues with a fixed-seating capacity over 1,000.

On May 27, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 243 which permits employers in indoor worksites that are closed to the public to allow employees who can verify that they are vaccinated the ability to forego wearing a mask and social distancing. Employers retain the ability to issue more restrictive policies on masking and social distancing. Employers shall not restrict individuals from wearing masks and shall not penalize or retaliate against individuals who choose to wear a mask.

The Executive Order also rescinds the requirement in Executive Order No. 107 that businesses and non-profits accommodate telework arrangements for their workforce to the maximum extent practicable and reduce their on-site staff to the minimal number necessary for their operations. Employers bringing employees back to the physical worksite must continue to follow all applicable portions of Executive Order No. 192, including notifying employees of on-site exposure and performing health screenings of employees entering the worksite.

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