Alerts and Updates

New Jersey Announces New COVID-19 Restrictions on Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings

November 23, 2020

New Jersey’s tightened gathering restrictions affect certain industries more than others, though the general indoor gathering limitation will apply to all employers. 

On November 16, 2020, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 196, which further tightens restrictions on various types of gatherings, both indoor and outdoor. This new order comes on the heels of Executive Order 194, which created additional restrictions for certain industries, and Executive Order 192, which created a uniform set of safety restrictions for all businesses in the state. You can read more about Executive Order 192 in our previous Alert. Executive Order 196 essentially decreases indoor and outdoor gathering limits in response to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases.

The following restrictions for indoor gatherings went into effect on November 17, 2020:

  • General indoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people.
  • Indoor gatherings for weddings, funerals, or memorial services must be limited to 150 people or 25 percent of a room's capacity―whichever number is lower.
  • Indoor gatherings for religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment must be limited to 150 people or 25 percent of a room's capacity―whichever number is lower.
  • Athletic competitions and practices that are conducted indoors are subject to the current indoor gathering limit of 10 persons, with exceptions when the sport necessitates additional athletes, trainers, coaches or referees. The number of individuals present inside facilities where indoor professional or collegiate athletic competitions are taking place may not exceed 25 percent of the capacity of the room in which the event takes place, and such limit may not exceed 150 persons.
  • Indoor gatherings for entertainment centers where performances are viewed or given, including movie theaters, performing arts centers and other concert venues, remain limited to 150 people or 25 percent of a room's capacity―whichever number is lower.
  • Legislative and judicial proceedings are not subject to the limits on indoor gatherings.

While the numeric limits on indoor gatherings contained in Executive Order 183 have been rescinded, all other requirements for indoor gatherings referenced in Paragraphs 5 and 6 of that Order remain in effect, including that:

  • All attendees at an indoor gathering must wear face coverings at all times except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health, where the individual is under 2 years of age or when wearing a face covering is impracticable (such as, when an individual is eating, drinking or smoking);
  • Individuals organizing or maintaining the gathering must wear face coverings whenever feasible and must wear face coverings whenever they are within 6 feet of another individual, except when doing so would inhibit the individual’s health;
  • All attendees at the gathering are required to be 6 feet apart from other attendees at all times, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members or romantic partners, as well as excluding a limited number of individuals organizing or maintaining the gathering; and
  • There may be no contact between attendees, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members or romantic partners, and excluding a limited number of individuals organizing or maintaining the gathering.

The following restrictions for outdoor gatherings go into effect on November 23, 2020:

  • General outdoor gatherings must be limited to 150 people.
  • There will continue to be no limit for outdoor gatherings for weddings, funerals, memorial services, religious activities or political activities.

As with the new restrictions for indoor gatherings, while the numeric limits on outdoor gatherings in Executive Order 161 have been rescinded, all other requirements for outdoor gatherings contained in Paragraph 1 of that Order are still in effect, including that:

  • All attendees at the gathering are required to be 6 feet apart from other attendees at all times, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members or romantic partners, as well as excluding a limited number of individuals organizing or maintaining the gathering; and
  • There may be no contact between attendees, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members or romantic partners, and excluding a limited number of individuals organizing or maintaining the gathering.

Also, the face covering requirements for outdoor public spaces under Executive Order 163 remain in effect. In accordance with Executive Order 163, individuals must wear face coverings in outdoor public spaces when it is not practicable to maintain 6 feet from persons other than immediate family members, caretakers, household members or romantic partners. The face covering requirement does not apply when wearing a face covering would inhibit the individual’s health, including when engaging in high intensity aerobic or anaerobic activities, when in the water and in other situations where the presence of a mask would pose a risk to the individual’s safety, or where the individual is under 2 years of age.

What This Means for Employers

New Jersey’s tightened gathering restrictions affect certain industries more than others, though the general indoor gathering limitation will apply to all employers. Employers must ensure that all work-related meetings or conferences in person adhere to the 10-person limit if conducted indoors.

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Sharon L. Caffrey, Kathleen O'Malley, Brad A. Molotsky, Elisabeth Bassani, Elizabeth Mincer or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.