Apr 9, 2020

NJ Executive Order 122 Stops Non-Essential Construction with Exceptions and Imposes Other Requirements

 

By Joseph R. Haftek, Jr.

On April 8, 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 122 (“EO 122”) ceasing all non-essential construction projects to limit the spread of COVID-19 (https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-122.pdf). While this may sound like a death knell for New Jersey construction, there are numerous exceptions in EO 122 that will permit many construction projects to continue as essential services under heightened safety precautions.  EO 122 also imposes additional mitigation requirements for all essential retail businesses and industries.  Schenck Price has prepared a separate Legal Alert to address those issues.

Section 2 of EO 122 halts all “non-essential” construction projects as of 8:00 p.m. on April 10, 2020.  However, fourteen exceptions are set forth defining what constitutes “essential construction projects”, including but not limited to:

  • Health care and pharmaceutical manufacturing;

  • Transportation;

  • Utilities;

  • 100% affordable housing and social service locations;

  • Schools, including higher education facilities;

  • Single-family homes and apartment units, and other residential units where owners/tenants have binding agreements to occupy by a date certain;

  • Online retail facilities;

  • Data centers;

  • Law enforcement and first responders;

  • Federal, State and local government contracts; and,

  • Emergency life/safety repairs.


There is also a provision permitting work required to safely secure non-essential sites, although no definitive timeframe is given for completing such work.  Most interestingly, unlike New York State’s Executive Order 107 ceasing non-essential construction, there is no formal mechanism to seek a determination regarding a project’s essential status.  Initial information funneling out from government sources indicates that determination regarding essential status will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis; however, there is no indication how this “essential review” process will be initiated, and applications evaluated.  Hopefully, additional guidance issued by the State will clarify this issue.

 

In addition to the now standard general social distancing requirements, Section 3 of EO 122 places minimum requirements on essential construction projects going forward, including: limiting meetings and groups to less than ten (10) peoples; staggering start and stop times, lunch breaks, and work times to minimize individuals at sites; restricting access to common areas and restrooms; requiring face coverings; and, providing additional sanitation materials and frequent sanitation of “high-touch areas.”  

 

While these obligations appear daunting, they are necessary if work at essential sites is to continue.  Furthermore, violations of EO 122 are a disorderly person offense punishable by up to six (6) months in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine.

 

Schenck Price continues to monitor legislative developments at the federal, state and local level, and will provide updates on future legislative enactments.  If you have any questions about the laws referenced in this Alert, please contact the author Joseph R. Haftek, Jr. at jrh@spsk.com.

DISCLAIMER:  This Alert is designed to keep you aware of recent developments in the law.  It is not intended to be legal advice, which can only be given after the attorney understands the facts of a particular matter and the goals of the client.

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