Mayor Ras Baraka and other city officials unveiled details of a phased reopening plan Thursday.
Phase One of the plan, which begins June 1, calls for recreation centers, parks and playgrounds and other outdoor gathering places to remain closed.
"We're advancing, but it also gives us room to retreat if the numbers go back up," Mayor Baraka said. "Our top priority is the health and safety of our residents."
The Mayor's decision is based on data that shows a continued decline in COVID-19 cases and from the recommendations of the "Newark Reopening and Recovery Strikeforce." The data collected shows while Newark has increased testing 100 percent, the percentage of people who have tested positive has dropped dramatically, as well as reported cases and deaths.
Faith-based and other meetings will continue to be conducted virtually rather than in person.
A color-coded system of restrictions will also go into effect for different parts of the city, depending on how severely affected each area has been impacted by COVID-19.
Businesses, restaurants, parks and other public places will display color-coded signage, with red being the highest risk area, yellow more moderate and green the lowest risk area.
The Mayor gave the example of basketball courts probably being coded red because of the crowds and the nature of the game which does not favor social distancing.
"We want people to know if you go to these places, you run a high risk of getting sick," he said.
Information centers will be established and a Technology Task Force will begin work on plans for remote learning in the city.
The plan calls for a 14-day period between each phase, with Phase Two beginning around June 14, provided data indicators remain favorable.
The mayor has already signed an executive order outlining policy for non-essential retail businesses conducting curbside pick-up, and for their customers, in accordance with an earlier executive order signed by Governor Murphy.
The mayor's initiative, Be Still Mondays, where people are encouraged to stay home every Monday will continue until June 1, when Phase One begins.
Other Phase One components include:
- Recreation centers, parks and playgrounds will remain closed; block parties and special events will remain on hold. All faith-based services can be held via teleconference or virtually.
- Information centers will be established in each ward and 4311 will be expanded to include a dedicated COVID-19 information hotline. Additionally, a technology task force will be created to develop a sustainable citywide strategy for universal access to Wi-Fi and the hardware necessary for remote learning.
- An isolation and quarantine plan will be developed for those who cannot create one themselves. Guidance will be provided around emotional hurdles and fears related to medical mistrust.
- Lastly, letters will be sent to all businesses requesting plans to ensure the safety of their employees and the general public. City licensing, approvals and permitting processes will be adjusted to streamline what can be expedited and waived.
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