List of Essential & Non-Essential Businesses

Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey released the following list of essential and non-essential businesses, as defined by Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

Non-Essential Businesses

The following businesses have either been deemed non-essential or have been found to be incompatible with the principles of social distancing and are ordered to close or require employees to work remotely:

  • Movie theaters
  • Gyms & fitness centers
  • Casinos & racetracks
  • Nightclubs & concert venues
  • Performing arts centers
  • Adult day health programs
  • Day programs for individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities
  • Barber shops & hair salons
  • Spas
  • Nail and eyelash salons
  • Tattoo parlors
  • Massage parlors
  • Tanning salons
  • Public and private social clubs

All other retail, recreational, personal care, and entertainment businesses that are not found in the following list of essential businesses are also required to close.

Essential Businesses

The following businesses have been deemed essential or safe and may continue to operate:

  • Online & telephonic delivery services
  • Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store;
  • Pharmacies and alternative treatment centers that dispense medicinal marijuana;
  • Medical supply stores;
  • Retail functions of gas stations; 
  • Convenience stores;
  • Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
  • Hardware and home improvement stores;
  • Retail functions of banks and other financial institutions;
  • Retail functions of laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
  • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years old;
  • Pet stores;
  • Liquor stores;
  • Car dealerships, but only to provide auto maintenance and repair services, and auto mechanics;
  • Retail functions of printing and office supply shops; and
  • Retail functions of mail and delivery stores. 
  • Mobile phone retail, repair shops
  • Bicycle shops, only for service and repair
  • Livestock feed stores
  • Nurseries, garden centers
  • Farming equipment stores

Essential retail businesses must, wherever practicable, provide pickup services outside or adjacent to their stores for goods ordered in advance online or by phone. 

Restaurants and bars may continue to operate, but are limited to providing delivery and takeout.

Childcare centers may continue to operate only if they limit themselves to providing childcare to the children of essential workers only. Any childcare center that wishes to do so must certify its intent with the state no later than Friday, March 27. Otherwise, all other centers must shut down by Wednesday, April 1.

Other Businesses

If your business is not present on either list - e.g., hospitality, legal, manufacturing, transportation, or shipping businesses - you are unaffected by the Governor’s executive orders. In this case, the decision to open or close is at the discretion of the business owner or manager. However, any business that is able to allow non-essential employees to work from home is required to do so unless specifically exempted.


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