Governor Phil Murphy

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This Week In New Jersey: March 13, 2020


Governor Murphy Declares State of Emergency, Public Health Emergency to Strengthen State Preparedness to Contain the Spread of COVID-19

As part of the state’s coordinated response to address the novel coronavirus outbreak, Governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency and a Public Health Emergency, effective immediately, to ramp up New Jersey’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order No. 103 declares a state of emergency and public health emergency across all 21 counties in New Jersey, allowing state agencies and departments to utilize state resources to assist affected communities responding to and recovering from COVID-19 cases.

“The State of New Jersey is committed to deploying every available resource, across all levels of government, to help respond to the spread of COVID-19 and keep our residents informed,” said Governor Murphy. “My Administration will continue to work closely with our federal partners to ensure that local health agencies on the front lines of the state’s response are equipped with the resources needed to further prepare our health care system for a broader spread of COVID-19.”

The declaration tasks the State Director of Emergency Management and Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, Colonel Patrick Callahan, in conjunction with New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner, Judith Persichilli, to oversee the implementation of the State Emergency Operations plan and generally direct the State’s emergency response.


Governor Murphy Recommends Cancellation of All Public Gatherings of More Than 250 Individuals

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy released the following statement:

“Based on guidance we have received from the Commissioner of Health, we are recommending the cancellation of all public gatherings throughout New Jersey of more than 250 individuals, including concerts, sporting events, and parades. These measures are being taken as part of our coordinated response to the continued outbreak and to aggressively mitigate the spread of the virus. Additionally, for all events, we recommend that everyone practice commonsense hygiene, like washing hands routinely, staying home if you do not feel well, and keeping a six-foot distance from others.

“Our frontline efforts right now must be to aggressively mitigate the potential for exposure and further spread. We are taking this step because social distancing works. It is our best chance to ‘flatten the curve’ and mitigate the chance of rapid spread, so we can respond to this public health emergency in an even more focused manner.”


Civil Service Commission Issues Guidelines and FAQs for State Employees After Governor Murphy's Announcement of State of Emergency for New Jersey

Following Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order announcing a State of Emergency that authorizes all state Departments and Agencies to enact measures to respond to the spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the New Jersey Civil Service Commission issued Guidelines and FAQs to protect State employees from the spread of COVID-19. 

“The health and safety of our employees is our number one concern,” said Governor Murphy. “The guidelines we are issuing today, following the declaration of a state of emergency in New Jersey, are designed to limit the exposure of state employees to COVID-19 and to protect the general public. These guidelines will allow our state workforce to continue carrying out the day to day business of running our state, while providing necessary public health accommodations.” 

“The best interest of our employees is always our top priority.” said Chair/CEO of the Civil Service Commission, Deirdre Webster Cobb Esq., “We take the severity of this virus seriously and will work with our departments and agencies to ensure the health and well-being of our employees while ensuring the continued operations of the state and delivery of much needed services.” 


Division of Consumer Affairs Coordinating Statewide Crackdown on Price Gouging During State of Emergency

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (“the Division”) updated the public about the ongoing enforcement of the State’s price gouging and consumer-protection laws during the state of emergency declared by Governor Phil Murphy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have declared a zero-tolerance policy for price gouging and other unfair business practices that prey on consumers concerned by the COVID-19 pandemic and we must use every available resource to enforce the laws that protect New Jersey consumers,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Today I called on New Jersey consumer protection offices at all levels to join forces to swiftly investigate and put a stop to any merchant seeking to take financial advantage of consumers trying to stay safe and protect themselves and their loved ones from the spread of this virus.”

“We are deploying dozens of investigators in the field every day to visit retail locations in response to complaints of price gouging and we’re preparing to take action against a number of alleged violators,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Today, under the leadership of Attorney General Grewal, we took steps to maximize those efforts by enlisting the help of our CALA partners across the state in investigating alleged violations of our price gouging and other consumer protections laws.”


NJ Higher Education Secretary Announces Coronavirus Guidance for Colleges, Universities; Urges Institutions to Prepare Amid Outbreak

Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis announced guidance specific to colleges and universities that includes considerations for institutions as they make decisions that impact campus life.

These considerations include handling basic needs for those who need it (such as housing and food); notifying the surrounding community – including municipal and county leadership and the local business community – and decision-making involved with re-convening in-person instruction if an institution has decided to move its classes online.

Institutions of higher education should review and update their Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) to outline their response to a potential case, including identifying the appropriate individuals involved in the response and developing a communication strategy during an emergency.

“While there is no evidence of widespread community transmission in New Jersey, the most important thing for colleges and universities to do now is plan, prepare and ensure their plans are reflective of the current reality, understanding there are a lot of unknowns,” Secretary Smith Ellis said. “It is crucial that institutions follow guidance developed by our Office, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and stay informed of updates as they become available.”