April 2, 2020
By Mohamed H. Nabulsi
This afternoon, as we predicted, the Governor issued Executive Order 113 (“Order”) to empower the Superintendent of State Police, in his capacity as Director of Emergency Management, to “take or use personal services and/or real or personal property, including medical resources, for the purpose of protecting or promoting the public health, safety, and welfare.”
The Order makes clear that the purpose of the Order’s sweeping grant of authority to the police is to facilitate the reallocation of medical resources to the regions and health care facilities within New Jersey that are particularly affected by COVID-19. In exercising this authority, the Superintendent of Police must consult with the Commissioner of the Department of Health.
Given that the Governor had previously requested, and then required, that certain healthcare facilities provide the State with an inventory of crucial medical supplies and equipment that the State urgently needs to combat COVID-19, the Governor’s most recent unprecedented executive action should not come as a surprise.
The Order does not only authorize the State to seize personal property, it also authorizes the State to seize real property and essentially force individuals to provide “personal services” for the purposes of protecting the public health during this COVID-19 emergency. In other words, the State may now seize land or buildings that it requires to combat the pandemic, and also may order people, presumably healthcare professionals, to provide their personal services where the State deems such services are most in need.
Those whose property and services will be used by the State under the Order should rest assured that the State will compensate affected individuals and entities pursuant to applicable law.