Coronavirus: New Jersey governor orders residents to stay home, shuts down non-essential businesses

New Jersey is the fifth state to issue the order after the state saw a sharp rise with 442 new coronavirus cases and five deaths reported on March 21

                            Coronavirus: New Jersey governor orders residents to stay home, shuts down non-essential businesses
(Getty Images)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order on March 21 directing all residents to "stay at home" and "indefinitely" closing all non-essential retail businesses in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus. New Jersey is the fifth state to issue the order after California, New York, Illinois and Connecticut.

Governor Murphy tweeted on March 21, " I just signed an Executive Order directing nearly all residents to STAY AT HOME. ALL gatherings are canceled. ALL non-essential retail businesses must indefinitely close their physical stores to the public effective 9 pm tonight."

He added, "New Jerseyans can still take a walk outside, go buy groceries or get take-out from a local restaurant. But, otherwise, STAY AT HOME. This is a time for us all to come together to flatten the curve, slow, and eventually halt the spread of #COVID19."

"From day one, we’ve made a commitment to be guided by the facts and take any action necessary to protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s nine million residents," said Governor Murphy. "We know the virus spreads through person-to-person contact, and the best way to prevent further exposure is to limit our public interactions to only the most essential purposes. This is a time for us all to come together in one mission to 'flatten the curve' and slow – and eventually halt – the spread of coronavirus."

Governor Murphy's Executive Order No. 107 directs the closure of all non-essential retail businesses to the public, with the exceptions of grocery stores, farmer's markets and farms that sell directly to customers. Other places that will remain open are food stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, medical marijuana dispensaries, gas stations, convenience stores, ancillary stores within healthcare facilities, hardware and home improvement stores, banks and other financial institutions, laundromats and dry-cleaning services, stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years, pet stores, liquor stores, printing and office supply shops, mail and delivery stores, car dealerships but only for auto maintenance and repair and auto mechanics.

The order also states examples of employees who need to be present at their worksite in order to perform their job duties that include, but are not limited to, law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, IT maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff and certain administrative staff.

Governor Murphy also signed Executive Order No. 108, which invalidates any county or municipal restriction that in any way conflicts with any of the provisions of Executive Order No. 107, adding that municipalities or counties cannot add, change or delete from the list of essential retail businesses, impose any additional limitations on businesses beyond the governor's order, impose any additional density or social distancing requirements or impose any additional restrictions on freedom of movement.

With the state officials reporting 442 new cases and five new deaths during a briefing on March 21, New Jersey now has at least 1,327 coronavirus cases, including 16 deaths. "We will see more cases in the coming weeks — a lot more cases," state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said during the state’s daily coronavirus briefing held at Bergen Community College in Paramus. "We expect a surge in cases that will stress the healthcare system significantly," she said.

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