COVID-19 Business Information

Comprehensive information for businesses on reopening from COVID, including rules and guidance that must be followed, economic assistance programs, and other resources.

What workplace health and safety standards must my business follow to be open?

Updated:
December 1, 2020

Every business, non-profit, governmental, and educational entity that requires or permits its workforce to be physically present at a worksite must abide by the standardized operational requirements outlined in Executive Order 192 and listed below in Health & Safety Standards for All Employers.

Businesses must also abide by all additional requirements outlined for their industry listed under Industry-Specific Guidelines.

This article also identifies Businesses that Must Be Closed as well as Gathering Limits in the state of New Jersey.

Health & Safety Standards for All Employers

Every business, non-profit, governmental, and educational entity that requires or permits its workforce to be physically present at a worksite must abide by the following requirements, at minimum, to protect employees, customers, and others who come into contact with its operations:

  • Require workers and customers to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, to the maximum extent possible;
  • Require everyone to wear face masks, except when an employee is at their workstation at least six feet from others, or is alone in a walled space such as an office—Note that employers may be authorized to prevent individuals who refuse to wear a mask from entering the worksite, where such actions are consistent with state and federal law;
  • Provide face masks for their employees;
  • Provide approved sanitization materials for employees and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
  • Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide ​employees with sufficient break time for that purpose;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines;
  • Prior to each shift, conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance;
  • Do not allow sick employees to enter workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws; and
  • Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite.

In addition, under federal OSHA law, employers must protect workers from workplace hazards that can cause illness or injury, provide required personal protective equipment (PPE), and ensure its use. It's also against New Jersey Wage and Hour law for an employer to deduct the cost of protective equipment from an employee’s pay.

Employees who believe that their employer is not following the protocols articulated in EO 192 can file workplace safety complaints here.

Detailed requirements and exemptions can be found in Executive Order 192. Many sectors face additional requirements summarized in the articles below.

Industry-Specific Guidelines

Under Executive Order 195, municipalities and counties have the option to regulate the operating hours of non-essential businesses after 8 p.m. Municipalities and counties cannot impose other actions that differ from statewide rules, such as restrictions on essential businesses, full business closures, or restrictions on gatherings or capacity.

Retail businesses must follow Department of Health Guidance for Retail Businesses [PDF], and Administrative Order 2020-22, including limiting occupancy to 50% of store capacity, and installing a physical barrier where possible. Self-service food, is not permitted at retail businesses, including grocery stores. While indoor portions of malls may be open, valet parking, communal play areas, and communal seating remain closed. Food courts and in-mall entertainment businesses, must follow guidelines for indoor dining and entertainment businesses respectively. Vending machines and stroller rentals may be open.

Food or beverage establishments must follow Department of Health Protocols for Outdoor Dining [PDF], Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining [PDF], Executive Order 194, and DCA's guidance for the use of outdoor space during the winter months.  Areas with a fixed roof, if two sides are open, comprising over 50% of their total wall space, may operate under rules for outdoor dining under Executive Order 163. Food or beverage establishments may not operate their indoor premises between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery services can continue after 10 p.m. Businesses authorized to be open indoors after 10 p.m, may only do so when the consumption of food or beverage indoors is prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This restriction does not apply to indoor dining in New Jersey airports. Seating at the bar in indoor areas of bars and restaurants will be prohibited during all operating hours. Restaurants will be allowed to have groups at tables indoors that are closer than six feet together, if they are separated by barriers that comply with Department of Health guidance. Restaurants will be allowed to set up heated, plastic domes outdoors, limited to one group each, and subject to health and safety protocols outlined in EO 194, and rules for outdoor dining in EO 163. Establishments that want to maintain the use of tents past November 30, 2020, are required to apply for a Uniform Construction Code (UCC) permit from their local construction office. A permit for any electrical equipment, electrical wiring, or mechanical equipment that would otherwise require a permit must also be filed. Operational items such as portable cooking equipment, propane heaters, and similar items used around and/or under the tent should be maintained in accordance with the Uniform Fire Code and addressed by the local fire official.

Microbreweries and brewpubs may be open for home delivery. Depending on the type of license they hold, food service may be allowed; business owners should consult Executive Orders 150 and 157 and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control's ruling [PDF] to determine if they qualify.

Licensed personal care businesses may be open. Saunas, steam rooms, and shared bathing facilities must remain closed. Licensed businesses must abide by the Division of Consumer Affairs' comprehensive safety standards for Cosmetology, Massage, and Bodywork licensees [PDF], regulations in Executive Order 194, including but not limited to 25% capacity, providing services by appointment only, and staff-client pairs remaining at least 6 feet apart unless separated by physical barriers. Tattoo and tanning facilities must follow Department of Health standards for tanning and body art establishments [PDF]. Under Executive Order 157, clients may receive services that require the removal of a face covering, provided that clients wear a face covering at all times before and after the service.

Child care centers must follow Department of Children and Families' Child Care Safety Requirements [PDF].

All recreational and entertainment businesses must follow requirements detailed in Executive Orders 157,  181, and 183, including but not limited to 25% capacity for indoor areas. Note that any recreational facility providing child care support must comply with all requirements of child care centers, including being licensed by the Department of Children and Families. In addition, amusement parks, theme parks and water parks must follow requirements detailed in the Department of Health’s Standards for Outdoor and Indoor High-Touch Amusement and Recreation Activities. Water parks and pools must also adhere to the requirements of Executive Order 153 and the Department of Health’s Standards for Pools and Aquatic Recreation Facilities.

Entertainment centers where performances are viewed or given must follow requirements in Executive Order 183, including but not limited to 25% capacity or 150 people (whichever is less).

Gyms and fitness centers must follow the required safety policies detailed in Executive Orders 157 and 181 and the Department of Health's Guidance for Health Clubs/Gyms/Fitness centers [PDF], including, but not limited to: 25% capacity indoors; fitness classes with capacity limited to one customer per every 200 square feet of classroom space; logs maintained of when all gym members and staff are in the facility; equipment spaced to allow a minimum of 6-feet of distance between all gym-goers; and equipment only made available that can be properly sanitized in-between uses.

Casinos must follow all requirements from Executive Orders 157, 158 and 194, the Division of Gaming Enforcement, and reopening protocols from the Casino Association of New Jersey, including but not limited to; 25% capacity; smoking prohibited indoors; reopening plans submitted to the Division of Gaming Enforcement. As of Thursday, November 12, 2020, casinos may not serve food or drinks between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., with the exception of room service delivered to guest rooms and takeout.

Hotels, motor hotels, motels, and other established guesthouses must follow written policies as defined in Department of Health Protocols for Hotel Sanitization [PDF].

Organized sports activities must follow Department of Health Guidance for Sports Activities. All indoor practices and competitions are limited to 10 people. However, if the number of individuals who are necessary for practice or competition, such as players, coaches, and referees, exceeds 10, the practice or competition may proceed if no unnecessary individuals such as spectators are present. Even if this exception applies, the number of individuals at the practice or competition cannot exceed 25% of the capacity of the room, and such limit cannot exceed 150 persons. Outdoor competitions or tournaments must abide by the limit on outdoor gatherings. All interstate games and tournaments up to and including the high school level are prohibited. As of 6 a.m. on December 5th, 2020, all indoor youth and adult sports practices and competitions, including group, competitive and organized sporting activities will be prohibited through January 2nd, 2021. This prohibition will not impact collegiate and professional sporting activities. Private fitness classes, lessons, and trainings at gyms, studios and similar locations are permitted to continue.  Effective 6 a.m. on Monday, December 7th all outdoor sports will be limited to 25 individuals. Athletes, coaches, referees and other individuals necessary for a professional or collegiate sports competition are not counted towards the 25-person limit.  For other adult and youth sports occurring outdoors, the number of individuals necessary for a game or practice can exceed the 25-person limit, but only if no individuals who are not necessary for the event, such as spectators, are present.

Career and training schools must follow protocols in Paragraph 10 of Executive Order 155.

Horse-racing can take place. Fans will not be allowed into racetrack grandstands. Gathering limits apply.

Transportation Carriers must comply with restrictions in Paragraph 1 of Executive Order 125.

Construction projects, including nonessential construction, must follow all protocols in Paragraph 2 of Executive Order 142.

Medical facilities may continue to operate. Facilities conducting elective services are required to comply with Guidance for Hospitals to Resume Elective Services [PDF] and Guidance for Ambulatory Surgery Centers to Resume Elective Services [PDF]. Further NJDOH Legal and Regulatory Compliance documentation is available from the department as well.

Businesses That Must Be Closed

Adult Day Care Centers remain closed.

Gathering Limits

Gatherings of individuals are allowed at limited capacities and also subject to all other current business closures and restrictions. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 persons; an exception exists for weddings, funerals and memorial services, religious and political activities, and performances, which are limited to 25% of a room's capacity or 150 persons, whichever is lower. Attendees at indoor gatherings must wear face coverings and stay 6 feet apart. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 150 persons, with an exception allowing no limits for outdoor weddings, funerals, memorial services, religious activities, or political activities.  Starting Monday, December 7, 2020, at 6 a.m., outdoor gatherings will be limited to no more than 25 persons. The CDC defines gatherings to include conferences, large meetings, parties, festivals, events, and other types of assemblies. While current exclusions will continue to apply, the new outdoor gathering limit will apply to all other outdoor activities like outdoor performances and high school football games. Outdoor dining is unaffected by this limit and continues to be governed by the health and safety regulations already in place.

If any business is violating the required guidelines, you can report it to the State at covid19.nj.gov/violation, or to your Local Health Department, which you can identify with the Find Your Local Health Department tool.