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Posted on: August 5, 2020

Governor Issues Four New COVID-19 Related EOs

Since our last update, Governor Murphy issued four new COVID-19 related executive orders: Executive Order 170, which extends certain statutory deadlines across state government; Executive Order 171 which extends the Public Health Emergency that was declared on March 9, 2020 and previously extended through executive orders on April 7, May, 6, June 4, and July 2; Executive Order 172 which allows public employees to immediately enroll in State Health Benefits Program; and Executive Order 173 which decreased indoor gathering capacity limits.

 Executive Order 170 (EO 170), signed July 31, 2020 and took effect immediately, extends certain statutory deadlines across state government.  The statutory deadlines extended through EO 170 are limited to those specifically identified in an Appendix to the executive order.  Of particular concern to municipal governments is the extension of multiple statutory deadlines found in: N.J.S.A. 4:1C-21(c), 4:1C-21(d), 4:1C-21(i), all of which deal with review and approvals related to farmland preservation programs;  N.J.S.A. 56:8-96(c), which deals with the revocation by local health authorities of pet shops’ licenses; and N.J.S.A. App.A:9-40.1 which requires municipal emergency management coordinators to complete approved course work.

EO 170 and its appendix should be reviewed carefully with all levels of your municipal government to ensure the new deadlines are taken into consideration.

Executive Order 171 (EO 171) extends the Public Health Emergency that was initially declared on March 9, 2020. Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, a declared public health emergency expires after 30 days unless renewed.  EO 171 extends the Public Health Emergency for an additional 30 days.

Executive Order 172 (EO 172), signed August 3, 2020 and took effect immediately, directs that, for the duration of the Public Health Emergency, any new or returning State or municipal employee who is hired on or after March 9, 2020, may immediately enroll in the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP).  EO 172 supersedes waiting periods otherwise required by law and supersedes requirements in Executive Order 115 which allowed immediate enrollment in the SHBP but only if the person was hired for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Order 173 (EO 173) decreases the capacity limits of indoor gatherings.  EO 173 was signed August 3, 2020 and took effect at 6:00 a.m. on August 4, 2020. EO 173 limits indoor gatherings to 25% of the room’s capacity, but regardless of the room’s capacity, the maximum limit is 25 persons down from 100 persons. For purposes of determining this limit, private residences or residential units are to treated as a single room. 

The change in EO 173 does not apply to weddings, funerals, memorial services, religious services or celebrations, and political activities. These events may continue under previous rules that limited events to 25% of a room’s capacity, but with a limit of 100 people.

Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, fmarshall@njlm.org, 609-695-3481 x137.


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