Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all non-essential retail businesses in New Jersey to close by 9 p.m. tonight in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. Murphy issued an executive order today that directs almost all residents of the state to stay at home. The order comes on the heels of governors in several other states making similar declarations, as well as a spike in the number of New Jerseyans infected with the virus in recent days.
Other businesses, including law firms, are directed to have most of their workforce, “wherever practicable,” telework from home, with the exception of employees who cannot perform their functions via these arrangements. Specifically, “the business or non-profit should make the best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.” The order lists examples of employees who need to be physically present as those who perform general building maintenance, IT maintenance and administrative functions, among others.
Executive Order 107 can be found here. See page 10, paragraphs 10 and 11, which apply to law firms.
The New Jersey State Bar Association, with support from county and affinity bars, successfully advocated that the legal community is an integral part of ensuring that people have access to justice, especially in these critical and uncertain times. A complete closing of law firm offices would mean many law firms, especially smaller firm practices that make up a large percentage of the firms in the state, would not be able to function and serve the myriad legal needs that exist in their communities. See our letter here.
The Association stands ready to assist any members of the legal community with questions about converting their office to a virtual operation. A series of free webinars has been created to address questions about how to practice law remotely and how to take a virtual deposition. Visit njicle.com as more are being added to the calendar.
Here is a website that has been created to address questions about the executive order and how it could affect businesses.
And here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the executive order.