Newark mayor signs coronavirus order with curfews, gathering limits

Posted Dec 04, 2020

Mayor Ras Baraka signed a local executive order that was released Friday amid the coronavirus pandemic which outlined curfews and limitations on gatherings, although specifics of what was mandatory and recommended remained unclear.

The executive order comes on the heels of the mayor’s 10-day lockdown recommendation, which took place from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4. There were 1,058 new coronavirus cases and 10 new deaths during that time period, which was down from 1,662 new cases and 19 deaths between Nov. 15 to 25, according to data from the county.

“I want to thank the great majority of Newark residents and businesses that cooperated with our lockdown that began the day before Thanksgiving and ended today,” Baraka said in a statement. “Our collective efforts have resulted in early data that shows our positivity rate has dropped and we anticipate further declines when we have data from the full shutdown period.”

Gov. Phil Murphy’s deputy press secretary, Jerrel Harvey, said the order appears to be consistent with statewide mandates. The mayor’s 10-day lockdown was a recommendation and not an executive order, so it was permissible under statewide mandates.

Still, some regulations outlined in the mayor’s order remained hazy. A section on curfews used the words “mandatory,” “should” and “recommended.” City and police department spokespersons and corporation counsel did not respond to requests seeking clarity.

“While we recommend that individuals refrain from being outdoors after the curfew, the curfew does not apply to workers at essential business while traveling to or from work,” the order said.

When asked if police would enforce the new local mandates, Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said “the Executive Order is part of our responsibility as the Department of Public Safety.”

GATHERINGS

Baraka’s order limits gatherings to 10 people until at least Jan. 8, 2021, although it is unclear if that applies to indoor or outdoor activities. One of Murphy’s orders limits indoor gatherings to 10 people with a few exceptions and outdoor gatherings to 25.

Newark’s order 10-person limitation does not apply to political or religious events. Attendance for religious activity is restricted to 25% capacity, the order said.

CURFEWS

Regulations on the below curfews will remain in effect until Dec. 17.

  • For zip code 07105, a mandatory 9 p.m. curfew is imposed. No one should be on the street after 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, unless traveling to or from work or if there is an emergency. The airport and highways are exempt.
  • For zip code 07107, a mandatory 9 p.m. curfew is imposed. No one should be on the street after 9 p.m. on the weekdays and 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday unless traveling to or from work or if there is an emergency.
  • For zip code 07104, a mandatory 9 p.m. curfew is imposed. No one should be on the street after 9 p.m. on the weekdays and 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday unless traveling to or from work or if there is an emergency.

RESTAURANTS, BUSINESSES AND OFFICES CLOSURES

All restaurants, businesses and offices are now required to close for at least two days for cleaning if two or more customers or patrons test positive for the virus. That requirement will stay in effect until at least March 31, 2021, the order said.

DINING

While the order did not outline any full-on bans on indoor or outdoor dining, it laid out tight permit requirements for restaurants’ tents and mandated customers’ phone numbers be collected when reservations are made to help with contact tracing. Requirements for restaurants will last until at least March 31, 2021, the order said.

A full list of permit mandates is outlined in the executive order. Additional requirements for restaurants included:

  • The fire department must approve all temporary heating like portable heaters.
  • Tents, tensioned membrane structures and canopies will be allowed outside until March 31, 2021, but a Uniform Construction Code permit must be obtained to have a tent past Nov. 30.
  • All uniform fire code tents that have already been erected must be inspected to ensure that they comply with winter conditions and snow loads. Those that do not meet structural provisions will have to seek a variance from the city’s construction official.
  • Dining domes, including bubbles, igloos, huts, etc. are permitted for outside dunning with the need for a UCC permit unless they are less 120 sq. ft. The dome must be able to be removed on a daily basis.
  • Code enforcement will conduct random inspections. A business that has a first violation will be closed for two days, while a fourth violation could result in an indefinite closure, the order said.

There will be no holiday parades or parties sanctioned by the city, but residents who do plan to host a private gathering are to follow similar guidelines from the state. The order also laid out recommendations to limit holiday travel.

Baraka noted that 53 businesses were shut down during the 10-day lockdown for allegedly violating the governor’s executive order. The city’s public safety department declined to release the names of the businesses that were cited.

Newark created a $2 million grant for businesses affected by the coronavirus, but those that did not adhere to the 10-day lockdown recommendation are not eligible.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-12-05 02:45:34 -0800