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Can retail stores and malls reopen? What are the social distancing requirements at retail businesses for customers, employees, and business owners?

Last Updated: 07/02/2020

Retail Stores

Retail stores may open so long as they follow mitigation requirements described below.

Indoor portions of retail shopping malls may also reopen and businesses must adhere to the same requirements as other retail businesses. Mall-based restaurants may offer take-out. Indoor entertainment businesses, such as movie theaters, remain closed.

See below for customer and employee guidelines and mitigation requirements for retail businesses.

Customers

  • If you are quarantined or in home isolation, do not leave your home. If you need essential goods or services while in isolation, refer to this article.
  • If you must leave home to access essential goods, please go at non-peak times. Retail food stores have been encouraged to maintain separate operating hours for senior citizens and other high-risk populations.
  • You MUST wear a face covering outdoors whenever it is difficult to maintain social distance and you must MUST wear one when shopping indoors. For more guidance on using face coverings, refer to this article.
  • Keep your visit as brief as possible, and go alone if possible.
  • When shopping and standing in line, please keep six feet between yourself and other customers/staff.
  • Please do not enter a retail facility if you have symptoms consistent with COVID19 (such as fever or a cough), have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are undergoing a quarantine for potential exposure to COVID-19.

Employees

  • If you have symptoms consistent with COVID19 (such as fever or a cough), have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or are undergoing a quarantine for potential exposure to COVID-19, do not report to work.
  • Must use a face covering. Your employer is required to provide materials for this purpose. For more guidance on using face coverings, refer to this article.
  • Under Executive Order 107 , if your job can be performed from home, you should be performing it at home. Your employer should permit you to do so. If you believe your employer is violating Executive Order 107, please visit https://covid19.nj.gov/violation.
  • Keep six feet of distance from customers and co-workers in the store.
  • Please wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol based sanitizer frequently, and particularly after contact with shared public surfaces.

Requirements For Retail Businesses

  • Immediately separate and send home workers who appear to have COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Promptly notify workers of any known exposure to COVID-19, subject to confidentiality requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
  • Clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance withCDC guidelines when a worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Continue to follow all guidelines and directives issued by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), the CDC, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for maintaining a clean, safe and healthy work environment.
  • Businesses must provide face coverings and gloves to all employees, and employees are required to wear face coverings and gloves while on the premises.
  • Limit occupancy to 50% of maximum store capacity at one time;
  • Establish hours of operation specifically for the exclusive use of high-risk individuals;
  • Install a physical barrier, such as a shield guard, between customers and cashiers/baggers where possible and anywhere you cannot maintain 6 feet of distance;
  • Require regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal;
  • Provide employees break time for regular hand washing;
  • Arrange for contactless pay options, pickup, or delivery of goods wherever possible;
  • Provide hand sanitizer and wipes to staff and customers;
  • Frequently sanitize high-touch areas like restrooms, credit card machines, keypads, counters and shopping carts;
  • Require infection control practices such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage;
  • Place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the store alerting staff and customers to the required 6 feet of distance;
  • Demarcate 6 feet of spacing in check-out lines to demonstrate appropriate social distancing;
  • Require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings, and require workers to wear gloves. A business must provide, at its own expense, these face coverings and gloves for employees. Customers may be exempted if it would inhibit their health, or if under two years of age. If a customer refuses, they must be denied entry, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case another method of pickup should be provided.

For a full list of mitigation requirements, refer to section 1 on page 5 of Executive Order No. 122.

Indoor Shopping Malls

On Monday, June 29, the indoor portions of retail shopping malls may reopen so long as they follow the required social distancing and safety guidelines.

Retail businesses located in the interior of shopping malls are permitted to reopen to the public, as long as they comply with the requirements for retail businesses outlined above.

Retail kiosks located within malls may open and must also follow the same mitigation requirements for retail businesses and must also ensure customers remain six feet apart at all times.

Restaurants within the interior of a retail shopping mall may offer takeout and delivery services as well as in-person outdoor dining in areas outside of the mall, where feasible and in accordance with mitigation requirements for all restaurants.

Valet parking, vending machines, stroller rentals, and communal play areas shall be closed at all indoor shopping malls.

Indoor entertainment and recreation businesses, like movie theaters, gyms, and water parks, located within malls will remain closed as they do across the state. However, arcades may reopen at 25 percent capacity so long as they follow required social distancing and safety guidelines. For a full list of safety requirements, refer to sections 7 of page 13 of Executive Order No. 157 and the Department of Health's Executive Directive 20-023.

Additional requirements for malls include:

  • All areas with communal seating shall be removed or cordoned off. Isolated seats or benches available for individual use may be accessible, in order to provide customers with a place to rest.
  • Indoor shopping mall operators should evaluate floor plans and establish policies to minimize congestion points and maintain social distancing, such as a customer flow plan with floor markings or separate entrance and exit points.
  • With respect to the mall's own employees, mall operators must require infection control practices, provide employees break time for handwashing, and provide sanitization materials, among other requirements.
  • Employees and customers must wear face coverings while on the premises, except where doing so would inhibit that individual's health or where the individual is under two years of age. If a customer refuses to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons and if such covering cannot be provided to the individual by the mall at the point of entry, then the mall must decline entry to the individual.

For a full list of mitigation requirements, refer to Administrative Order No. 2020-16.

Source: Executive Order 107; Executive Order 108; Executive Order 122; Executive Order 125; Executive Orders 147; Executive Order 150; Quick Guidance for Retail Stores; Executive Order No. 157; Executive Directive 20-023