Newark curfew in effect, new restrictions begin Thursday in New Jersey

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Thursday, December 24, 2020
Newark curfew in effect, new restrictions begin Thursday in New Jersey
Toni Yates reports on the new restrictions set to take effect Thursday in New Jersey.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Cases of the coronavirus continue to surge in New Jersey, as the state reported its highest daily total in seven months ahead of new restriction set to take effect Thursday.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday there were 3,877 new positive cases, bringing the state total to 260,430. There were 21 additional fatalities, raising the state death toll to 14,661.

The single day total was the highest since April 24, when 4,247 cases were reported.

"These numbers are devastating. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe," Governor Murphy tweeted.

Nearly 700 of the new cases were in Essex County, where officials in Newark say the current positivity rate is at 19%.

They've put in restrictions that go beyond the state, mandating that all non-essential businesses close at 8 p.m. each night.

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In a more targeted approach, in three Newark zip codes, 07104, 07105, 07107, there are even more rules. In one of those zip codes, the infection rate is 32.5%.

There is a 9 p.m. curfew on weeknights and a 10 p.m. curfew on weekends.

"That means all businesses are going to shut down," Mayor Ras Baraka said. "We may even shut down the drug stores and all those other places as well. Everything. Everything. We want to completely shut down those zip codes."

All sports activities of any kind shall cease immediately for a two-week period, and entire teams (players and coaches) must get tested to resume. Testing must happen every week moving forward, and anyone not actively playing must wear a face mask.

All gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people, indoors and outdoors, and no visitations will be allowed in long-term health care facilities. Only one non-essential visitor in senior housing will be allowed per unit per day.

Masks must be worn during religious services, including anyone speaking or singing. Reverends and choirs must wear masks.

Restaurants must enforce mask-wearing when people are not eating.

All businesses must perform temperature checks on everyone entering. No one with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will be allowed to enter.

The penalties for business noncompliance violations are very strict as well.

A first violation will result in a 48-hour closure, while a second violation will result in a two-week shutdown. A third violation will land businesses a 30-day shutdown, and a fourth violation will result in the revocation of their city business license.

If two or more patrons test positive at a business, Newark is asking it close down for two days to be cleaned. If two or more employees test positive, they are asking businesses to close for two weeks.

Statewide, more restrictions will begin Thursday, when all indoor spaces must close by 10 p.m. each day.

Gov Murphy said the state is ending indoor dining at 10 p.m. because of "restaurants turning into clubs as the night wears on."

"Those were just becoming spreading events," Murphy said on MSNBC.

There will no longer be bar seating allowed across the state after the state saw infection rates spike among bartenders and bar patrons.

To make up for the indoor restrictions, the state will allow outdoor seating bubbles.

"We know that people are getting sloppy in and around bars as the night wears on," Murphy said. "I can guess why that is the case. It's unequivocal and we are going to put a line in the sand on that."

Gov. Phil Murphy announced the new restrictions Monday afternoon amid a spike in COVID-19 positivity.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop tweeted his concerns about the new restrictions, saying they've seen businesses close and believe that the new restrictions will lead to more.

He went on to say he would've preferred stricter penalties for those who violate the rules, more contact tracing and more mask-wearing mandates.

The Jersey City mayor added that businesses are being punished, when the governor has said that gathering at private homes is what is leading to the rising infection rate.

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