Indoor dining, non-essential businesses face new restrictions in Newark as COVID spikes

COVID-19 News and Information
NEWARK (WABC) -- Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced strong measures Monday to contain a huge spike in coronavirus cases one day after reporting that the city had more cases than all other municipalities in Essex County combined.

The measures include the closing of non-essential businesses nightly at 8 p.m.; requiring restaurants and eateries to end dining-in at the same time; making beauty salons, nail salons, and barbershops appointment only; and closing gyms and health clubs for 30 minutes each hour for sanitizing.

The measures will begin Tuesday, October 27, and the city will then re-assess the situation after Tuesday, November 10, to determine the next steps.

Related: NJ reports nearly 2,000 new positive cases in one day

Baraka says Newark will gain help from the state with access to rapid testing and more contact tracers, as well as a space for people to safely quarantine.

"This is not the first time COVID-19 has threatened our city and its residents at this magnitude and once again, we will meet this challenge with determination and guided by data," Baraka said. "We are Newark strong and can get through this together. We did it once before and we can do it again."

The following will be strictly enforced without exception:
--All stores except supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations will close at 8 p.m. every day. They will be allowed to deliver and take out with no indoor ordering or lines.
--All restaurants, bars, etc. must close their indoor service at 8 p.m. and outdoor service at 11 p.m. They must also take temperatures of all patrons coming inside and ask them have they been in touch with anyone with COVID-19.
--All barbershops, beauty parlors, nail salons, and related establishments must have appointments only and no waiting inside.
--All gyms must 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.
--All indoor establishments must have sanitizer available.
--City Hall will be open by appointment only.
--The city will close all recreation centers to everything but school-related programs for essential employees.
--All sports activities and open park practices and games in the East Ward are canceled.
--The city is encouraging all employees to be tested immediately and periodically thereafter.
--Newark is discouraging all parties, indoor and outdoor festivals, and large family gatherings until further notice.

"Until, and even after, a vaccine is made available to every Newarker, the most potent immunization we will have available is a decision to take personal responsibility to obey and model the recommendations that keep us all safe," said Dr. Mark Wade, Director of Health and Community Wellness for the City of Newark. "All of us will need each other to get us through as individuals, neighborhoods, communities and a city, and to save the lives of those we love the most, each other!"

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Newark as of Friday, October 23, was 10,041, with 673 deaths.

Related: NJ Gov. Murphy to stay isolated, continues to discourage inter-state travel

On Sunday, October 18, Newark reported a test positivity rate of 11.2 %, using a three-day rolling average, in comparison to New Jersey's test positivity rate of 5.28%.

Based on testing information for Newark from October 11 to October 17, which counts each test, the city's positivity rate is 11.8% and the highest rate has been determined to be in the East Ward (25.3% in zip code 07105). The city's positivity rate has not been this high since the week ending May 23.

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