NJ Auto Industry Alert: COVID-19 Update

May 20, 2020



On May 19, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy and the Superintendent of the State Police issued an Administrative Order authorizing in-person sales to resume at car dealerships, motorcycle dealerships, boat dealerships, and bike shops, by appointment only and with social distancing measures in place.  The Order takes effect at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.  

The Administrative Order expands but does not revoke prior Administrative Orders regarding retail vehicle sales.  A prior Administrative Order issued on March 30, 2020, amended the list of essential retail businesses allowed to be open during the State of Emergency to include retail vehicle sales on a limited basis.   Dealerships were identified as an essential business and permitted to be open for online or telephone sales and to (1) deliver purchases directly to customers, (2) arrange for curbside pickup, or (3) deliver purchases in a dealership service lane.  On April 27, 2020 a follow up Administrative Order clarified dealerships are permitted to allow  customers that order or purchase a vehicle online or by phone to test drive the vehicle at the time of pick-up or prior to delivery.  Throughout the state of Emergency, dealerships have been allowed to be open for automotive repairs, service, and vehicle rentals.  Used dealers that are also buy here pay here locations have also been allowed to continue to operate their lending business.

Yesterday’s Administrative Order reaffirms that Dealerships may permit customers to test drive vehicles, sold or leased by the business, provided that the individual is given access to the vehicle alone, and the business appropriately cleans and sanitizes the vehicle after such test drive if the customer does not complete the purchase.

The order also requires dealerships:

  1. Limit occupancy at 50% of the stated maximum store capacity and require all customer visits, including sales, to be by appointment only;

  2. Establish hours of operation, wherever possible, that permit access solely to high-risk individuals, as defined by the CDC;

  3. Install a physical barrier, such as a shield guard, between customers and salespersons wherever feasible or otherwise ensure six feet of distance between those individuals, except at the moment of payment and/or exchange of goods;

  4. Require infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal;

  5. Provide employees break time for repeated handwashing throughout the workday;

  6. Arrange for contactless pay options, pickup, and/or delivery of goods wherever feasible. Such policies shall, wherever possible, consider populations that do not have access to internet service;

  7. Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, to staff and customers;

  8. Require frequent sanitization of high-touch areas like restrooms, credit card machines, keypads, counters and shopping carts;

  9. Place conspicuous signage at entrances and throughout the store, if applicable, alerting staff and customers to the required six feet of physical distance;

  10. Demarcate six feet of spacing in check-out and service lines to demonstrate appropriate spacing for social distancing; and k. Require workers and customers to wear cloth face coverings while on the premises, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health or where the individual is under two years of age, and require workers to wear gloves when in contact with customers or goods. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings and gloves for their employees. If a customer refuses to wear a cloth face covering for non-medical reasons and if such covering cannot be provided to the individual by the business at the point of entry, then the business must decline entry to the individual. Nothing in the stated policy should prevent workers or customers from wearing a surgical-grade mask or other more protective face covering if the individual is already in possession of such equipment, or if the business is otherwise required to provide such worker with more protective equipment due to the nature of the work involved. Where an individual declines to wear a face covering on store premises due to a medical condition that inhibits such usage, neither the essential retail business nor its staff shall require the individual to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition.


On May 18, 2020, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission announced it again extended deadlines by another two months for temporary registrations issued by dealers in addition to driver licenses, learner permits, commercial driver licenses, commercial learner permits and commercial registrations.  Documents expiring by May 31, 2020 were extended until July 31, 2020.  Documents expiring in June or July were extended by two months until August and September. 

Click here to view a downloadable PDF of the legal update.

This NJ Auto Industry Alert is intended to keep readers current on developments in the law. It is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions, please contact author Tony Bush at (609) 989‐5056 or abush@eckertseamans.com, or any other attorney at Eckert Seamans with whom you have been working.

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