NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey’s largest city is reversing course after seeing a serious spike in COVID cases. Newark is imposing a curfew for nonessential business and closing recreational facilities, among other things.
The COVID-19 positivity rate in the Ironbound section of Newark has now surpassed 25%, with the city surging above 11%, prompting Mayor Ras Baraka to order a city curfew. All non-essential businesses must close at 8 p.m. except grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.
The following restrictions go into effect beginning Tuesday night:
- Restaurants may continue serving food outdoors until 11 p.m. and takeout will be allowed after 8 p.m., but no patrons will be allowed inside.
- All barber shops and salons may remain open by appointment only, and no one allowed to wait inside.
- Gyms must also sanitize every hour and take temperatures at the door.During that time, people can stay inside or return after the cleaning. Everyone must wear masks.
- All indoor establishments must have sanitizers available.
- City Hall will be open by appointment only.
- Recreational centers will be closed except for school-related programs. Youth sports games will be canceled in the East Ward.
Other measures Newark is taking include requiring restaurants to take temperatures of all patrons coming inside and ask them if they have been in touch with anyone with COVID-19, as well as mandating all gyms clean and sanitize for the first 30 minutes of each hour. During that time, people can stay inside or return after the cleaning. Everyone must wear masks.
“It’s tedious, but if it’s something we need to do, we’ll do it,” said Bill Oliveira, owner of Chateau of Spain Restaurant.
Oliveira has had to layoff almost half of the restaurant staff to operate at 25% capacity inside. He was hoping to expand to 50% as the weather got colder.
“It’s hard to keep heat in these tents, so it is upsetting,” Oliveira said.
The state will assist with contact tracing and provide rapid tests.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Newark as of Friday, October 23, was 10,041, with 673 deaths.
“The state is rising,” said Mayor Baraka, “but we are rising faster than them.”
The last time Newark’s numbers were this high was on May 23.
The city of Newark said it expects to determine next steps after Nov. 10.
The state as a whole confirmed 1,223 new cases today (229,684 total) and seven new deaths (14,503 total confirmed and 1,789 still awaiting further confirmation).