Governor Phil Murphy demanded that all store employees and buyers wear face masks or blankets to help fight the coronavirus epidemic until further notice and limited customers in stores to a maximum of 50% of store capacity.
The governor announced Wednesday that he has signed a new executive order to enforce the rule.
“Customers and employees must wear a face covering,” Murphy said in Trenton during a daily pandemic briefing. “All essential retailers must limit the number of customers in their stores indefinitely to 50% of their approved capacity.”
Store workers are allowed to limit the length of stay for offenders and to ask people who do not wear a mask or blanket to stay away from other customers, said a Murphy official.
Murphy said he hoped those not wearing a mask “would be asked to leave” and called the application action “benevolent.”
“My personal orientation is that you have to go out and find something to put on your face before you get in,” he said.
Workers will also be required to wear gloves when interacting with customers, said Murphy. Companies are required to give workers masks, blankets and gloves at company expense.
People under the age of 2 or those with medical reasons for not wearing a face covering are exempt.
The governor also announced that new limits on the number of people in stores may be limited in the future.
CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracking | Open companies | Home page
“We have no shortage of food or other items. Period, “said Murphy. “We are taking this step to protect customers and workers.”
The order also requires stores to create physical barriers, where possible, to separate buyers from clerks and baggers. He said the rule applied to the whole state and that local municipal authorities could not impose more stringent restrictions.
New Jersey now has 1,504 deaths from coronaviruses, with 47,437 cases in total, while the epidemic continues to spread with 3,088 new positive tests announced on Wednesday.
The figures still included 275 deaths – the largest one-day increase since the epidemic. The total death toll is greater than the number of New Jersey residents – 1,487 – killed during the Vietnam War.
The new restrictions are statewide and cannot be lifted by local officials, said Murphy.
As of Wednesday morning, the virus had infected more than 1.4 million people worldwide, according to a current count from Johns Hopkins University. Of these, more than 83,400 have died and nearly 309,000 have recovered.
Tell us about your coronavirus stories, whether it’s a topical board, a topic you want us to cover, or a personal story you want to share.
If you want updates on New Jersey specific coronavirus news, subscribe to our Coronavirus in N.J. newsletter.
Subscribe to SMS alerts from NJ.com on coronavirus in New Jersey:
Matt Arco can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.
Do you have any advice? Tell us. nj.com/tips
Receive the latest updates straight to your inbox. Subscribe to NJ.com newsletters.