March 21, 2020
By Mohamed H. Nabulsi
On March 21, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order 107 (the “Order”), which requires, among other things, that retail businesses, other than certain enumerated essential retail businesses, close their brick-and-mortar premises, beginning at 9:00 p.m. on March 21, 2020, until the Order is revoked by the Governor.
The Order neither requires medical practices or other health care services to close their brick-and-mortar premises nor prohibits NJ residents from seeking medical attention. Indeed, the Order expressly provides that it shall not be construed to limit, prohibit, or restrict in any way the provision of health care or medical services to members of the public. Accordingly, the Order does not require the closure of medical practices and closely-allied healthcare practices (e.g., physical therapy, chiropractic, etc.) or healthcare facilities (e.g., laboratories, ambulatory care facilities or hospitals) (“Healthcare Businesses”). Underscoring the nature of the public health crisis that the State is facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Order includes certain healthcare-related retail businesses, such as medical supply stores, pharmacies, medical marijuana dispensaries, and “ancillary stores within healthcare facilities” among the Order’s enumerated “essential retail businesses” that are allowed to remain open.
However, the Order requires Healthcare Businesses to accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements. In other words, for example, if a medical practice offers medical services that do not necessarily require an in-person physical examination of the patient, such a medical practice would be required, under the terms of the Order, to allow its physician and non-physician employees to provide telemedicine services from their home.
For those Healthcare Businesses whose brick-and-mortar premises remain open to the public, the Order requires that they “make best efforts to reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure that essential operations can continue.” In other words, for example, if a medical practice has employees whose duties need not be performed on-site and may be performed remotely ( e.g., administrative personnel who assist with scheduling of appointments and other administrative matters), then the medical practice should endeavor to enable such employees to work-from-home.
If you have any questions regarding the operation of your healthcare business, please contact Mohamed Nabulsi.