Yesterday we issued a publication warning that Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 242, lifting the mask and social distancing mandates for workplaces effective May 28, 2021, was limited to businesses that open their doors to the general public. Private businesses that do not open their indoor spaces to the public for the purpose of selling goods, attending activities, or providing services must continue to comply with the mandates.
Further Lifting of the Mask and Social Distancing Requirements for Employees: On the heels of that Executive Order, the Governor’s office issued Executive Order No. 243, which goes into effect on 6:00 a.m. on June 4, 2021. That order lifts the mask and social distancing requirements in private indoor workplaces for those employees who verify they have been “fully vaccinated” as defined by the CDC ( all vaccination shots completed no fewer than 14 days prior). If the employer is unable to verify an employee’s vaccination status, it must require the employee to continue with the mask and social distancing requirements. The Order makes it clear that employers in workplaces not open to the public have the option to impose stricter requirements for mask-wearing and social distancing for employees but shall not restrict employees from wearing masks if they chose to do so.
Lifting of Requirements for Workplace Visitors: In addition, businesses not open to the general public are permitted to allow customers and visitors to enter the workplace without requiring a mask or social distancing, regardless of their vaccination status. As with employees, these businesses can impose stricter mask and social distancing requirements but may not restrict the wearing of masks by visitors.
Lifting the Requirement to Accommodate Remote Working: Under an Executive Order issued at the start of the pandemic, employers were required to accommodate employee requests to work remotely when possible. Executive Order 242 rescinds that requirement, permitting employers to recall all workers to the workplace next Friday, June 4, 2021. Employers must keep in mind that reasonable accommodations, which might include continued telework, must still be made for those employees who cannot return to the workplace for medical reasons.
We will continue to advise you of further developments regarding employers’ obligations during the pandemic as they occur.