Ask Your COVID-19 Questions Here

How does New Jersey plan to lift restrictions? What does a responsible and strategic restart of New Jersey’s economy look like?

Last Updated: 05/19/2020

On March 9, Governor Murphy declared both a state of emergency and a public health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to save lives, Governor Murphy issued New Jersey's stay-at-home Executive Order, which has been in effect since March 21.

The Road Back

On April 27, Governor Phil Murphy outlined a vision to guide the process for restarting New Jersey and restoring the State's economic health by ensuring public health. To learn more about the six guiding principles and the key metrics that will guide the process for lifting restrictions, refer to "The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health." As these benchmarks are met, the State will carefully and methodically begin restarting its economy.

On May 18, Governor Phil Murphy unveiled a multi-stage approach to execute the responsible and strategic economic restart to put New Jersey on the road back to recovery from COVID-19. The multi-stage blueprint, guided by the Governor's Restart and Recovery Commission and complementary Advisory Councils, plans for a methodical and strategic reopening of businesses and activities based on level of disease transmission risk and essential classification.

Multi-Stage Approach to Execute a Responsible and Strategic Economic Restart

New Jersey will move toward subsequent stages based on data that demonstrates improvements in public health and the capacity to safeguard the public. If public health indicators, safeguarding, or compliance worsen on a sustained basis, New Jersey will be prepared to move back to more restrictive stages as well. The restart will be phased-in within each stage, rather than opening all businesses and activities at once within a stage.

Maximum Restrictions Stage: Maximum restrictions with most individuals staying at home and activity limited to essential tasks.

Permitted activities and businesses include:

  • Emergency health care
  • Essential construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Essential retail, including grocery stores and pharmacies

Stage 1: Restrictions relaxed on low-risk activities if appropriately safeguarded. New Jersey is currently in this stage.

Phased-in businesses may include:

  • Non-essential, but easiest to safeguard, work activities at physical locations if they meet safeguarding and modification guidelines. Example: non-essential construction with protections
  • Some non-essential retail may open with significant modifications. Example: curbside pickup
  • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home even if their industry is reopening. Example: an office manager for a construction company

Phased-in activities include State and county parks, non-essential construction, curbside retail, drive-in activities, beaches, and elective surgeries.

Stage 2: Restrictions are relaxed on additional activities that can be easily safeguarded.

Phased-in businesses may include:

  • More work activities are allowed at physical locations only if they adhere to safeguarding and modification guidelines. Work activities to be phased-in over the course of Stage 2 may include expanded retail, safeguarded restaurants with outdoor seating, limited personal care, and possibly indoor dining, museums, and libraries, all with significantly reduced capacity.
  • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home. Example: a buying manager for restaurants
  • Some personal care services may be provided on a limited basis.

Stage 3: Restrictions are relaxed on most activities with significant safeguarding.

Phased-in businesses may include:

  • More work activities, including in-person meetings, are allowed at physical locations only if they can adhere to safeguarding guidelines and modifications. Work activities to be phased-in over the course of Stage 3 may include expanded dining, critical in-office work, limited entertainment, expanded personal care, and bars with limited capacity.
  • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home. Example: accounting office workers
  • Personal care services may be provided on a more extended basis.

Precautions that apply across all stages include:

  • Work that can be done from home should continue to be done from home.
  • Clinically high-risk individuals who can stay at home should continue to do so.
  • All residents and businesses should follow state and federal safeguarding guidelines: wash hands; wear masks in public; respect social distancing; minimize gatherings; disinfect workplace and businesses; and no mass gatherings

Public Health Indicators

New Jersey will move toward subsequent stages based on data that demonstrates improvements in public health and the capacity to safeguard the public, including:

  • Sustained improvements in public health indicators, including new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, individuals in intensive care, and ventilator use.
  • Substantial increase in testing and contact tracing capacity.
  • Sufficient resilience in New Jersey's health care system to include adequate bed capacity, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and workforce.
  • Widespread safeguarding of workplaces.
  • Widespread safeguarding and capacity of child care, schools, and transit.
  • Continued public compliance.

Timeline of Actions Taken