Newark mayor calls for mandatory curfew, closure of non-essential businesses for at least 2 weeks

Posted Mar 18, 2020

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka called for a mandatory curfew and the closure of all non-essential businesses — with exceptions for restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations — for at least two weeks to stifle the spread of coronavirus.

The directive comes on the heels of the city’s first fatality from coronavirus. The man was in his 40s, had underlying conditions and died after testing positive for COVID-19, Baraka said.

“Although he had underlying health issues, he was young - just in his early forties,” Baraka said in a virtual town hall Wednesday. “So we all have to take this very, very serious. Newark had its first fatality in a coronavirus case.”

The mayor said he imposed an 8 p.m. curfew within the borders of the city effective immediately. The restrictions would not apply to people coming or going to work or in emergency situations.

All non-essential businesses will close at 8 p.m. Wednesday and not reopen until at least April 1, Baraka said. Non-essential businesses include salons and retail stores, the mayor said.

The only businesses that can remain open are supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations and can only be patronized after 8 p.m. for emergencies. Laundromats, hotels, banks, auto mechanics, wireless/cellphone retail stores can also remain open.

Restaurants will have to close at 8 p.m. each day and can reopen on a daily basis. However, restaurants may only deliver and cannot have customers sit inside, a city spokeswoman said.

“I want everybody to stay well,” Baraka said. “Listen, we’re Newark, we’re strong. Prayfully we’ll get through all of this together as one community. It’s time for us to become serious about what’s happening.”

A Newark spokeswoman said she was unsure if an executive order outlining the closures and restrictions was signed by Baraka. The mayor did not sign one during the virtual town hall.

The curfew and restrictions on businesses in Newark go further than what Gov. Phil Murphy has asked residents in the rest of the state to do. The governor has only asked residents to not go out after 8 p.m., but has not required it.

Murphy also ordered all malls to close this week. Other businesses, including bowling alleys, zoos, aquariums, arcades, and fairs were also closed throughout New Jersey.

As of Wednesday, there were 13 Newark residents who tested positive for coronavirus, according to Community Health and Wellness Director Mark Wade. Essex County has 45 people with COVID-19, making it the second-highest rate of coronavirus cases in New Jersey. Only Bergen County has more cases, with 114.

There were 427 cases of coronavirus in New Jersey, according to the state Department of Health.

Hoboken imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. earlier this week.

The governor said in a Tuesday press conference that he wanted any local directives to be in-line with his statewide guidelines and mandates.

"We ask county and local officials to coordinate closely with us, prior to making any local directive,” Murphy previously said. “Again, there’s no doubting everybody’s hearts in the right place, but we have to do things in a coordinated fashion. At the end of the day, where necessary, we will override local or county actions to make sure we are consistent in our approach.”

Baraka’s citywide directive will be re-evaluated in two weeks on April 1 to determine if the restrictions should continue.

Below is additional information about services in Newark that have changed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • All public, private, and parochial schools remain closed indefinitely throughout the state due to the governor’s mandate.
  • Hardcopy packets of schoolwork will be available at students’ breakfast and lunch distribution locations in Newark. A complete list of locations can be found at
  • Cable provider Altice is providing free wifi to students.
  • Seniors and the most vulnerable populations for Coronavirus will have a dedicated time to shop at the ShopRite on 206 Springfield Avenue in Newark, from 6:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. on Fridays.
  • While all senior residential centers are closed to visitors, residents are encouraged to call and check on their senior family and friends. Management will check on them as well.
  • Immunization services in Newark will be reduced to Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • WIC will be open by appointment only on Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No walk-ins will be allowed.
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