Public Health Emergency Reinstated in New Jersey - Vaccines and Masking: What Employers Should Know

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On Tuesday, January 11th, Governor Phil Murphy re-instituted the Public Health Emergency, via executive orders, allowing the state to continue vaccine distribution, vaccination or testing requirements in healthcare and other settings, the collection of COVID-19 data, implementation of any applicable recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent or limit the transmission of COVID-19, staffing and resource allocation, and other critical components of the State’s COVID-19 response. The new orders also reauthorize existing orders requiring masking in school and daycare settings to remain in effect.

Executive Order No. 280, please click here.
Executive Order No. 281 please click here.
Government Contractors: Vaccination or Test Mandate

Under the Executive Orders, new contracts, new solicitation for a contract, extension or renewal of existing contracts, and exercise of an option on existing contracts, must include a clause that the contractor or any subcontractors, at any tier, that is party to the contract, must maintain a policy that requires all covered workers to either provide adequate proof to the covered contractor that they have been fully vaccinated or submit to COVID-19 testing at minimum one to two times weekly.
CDC Masking Guidance for Employers
In response to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant and the increased infection rates for vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees alike, it is suggested that all employees regardless of vaccination status mask up at work.  All counties in NJ currently have “extremely high” transmission rates.  Masking guidance can be found here.
Status of OSHA Vaccination/ Testing Mandate
While the OSHA Vaccine Mandate remains under consideration at the Supreme Court, the court did not block its implementation.   As of Monday, January 10th, employers with 100 or more employees were required to have a database of their workers’ vaccination status, post their company vaccine policy, provide paid leave to workers getting the vaccine and require unvaccinated employees to wear a mask at work.  OSHA has said it won’t issue penalties for noncompliance with the testing mandate until Feb. 9, which is the deadline for employers to implement the weekly COVID-19 testing alternative for unvaccinated workers.   The agency has said it will not issue citations until Feb. 9th if employers are making good faith efforts to comply.  How will OSHA know? Employee complaints.  On the other hand, the court's decision is expected soon, perhaps this week. So, many employers with 100 or more employees remain waiting in a holding pattern.