HOBOKEN, NJ - Officials are expressing concern over potential COVID-19 transmission via holiday weekend parties as Independence Day approaches.

At the mouth of the Hudson River, Hudson County is often a destination for those looking to take in fireworks displays over New York City and Jersey City. This year, those displays have been suspended, and Mayor Ravi Bhalla wants to ensure that Hoboken doesn't become a "hotspot" for all the wrong reasons.

"As residents prepare for the 4th of July weekend and the rest of the summer, I ask everyone to please exercise caution about gathering with groups of people and limiting travel, especially to hot spots, when possible," said Bhalla in a statement. "In other states, such as California, reports have indicated that gatherings during Memorial Day Weekend among friends and family with relaxed social distancing contributed to additional cases of COVID-19 and higher hospitalization rates."

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Hoboken itself is reporting a slow but steady increase in the number of positive cases, with two per day over the last three days. This news comes after a week that saw 21 new cases, whereas previous weeks were very low.
"My suggestion, as difficult as this may be, is to spend time with only household members this weekend (and beyond whenever practical), and if that is not possible, to limit contact with others to outdoor settings, with appropriate social distancing, and face masks when social distancing is not possible," said Bhalla. "On the news, we’ve seen a number of instances where extended family members have spread COVID-19 to others through parties, gatherings, and especially in indoor settings, without anyone realizing it at the time."

Another beacon for visitors to Hoboken is its dining and nightlife scene—which took a hard gut punch yesterday after Governor Murphy announced an indefinite postponement of New Jersey's projected restoration of indoor dining.

"We have been cautious throughout every step of our restart. We’ve always said that we would not hesitate to hit pause if needed to safeguard public health. This is one of those times. After COVID-19 spikes in other states driven by, in part, the return of indoor dining, we have decided to postpone indoor dining indefinitely," said Murphy.

Saying she was “extremely disappointed” by the announcement was Grace Sciancalepore of Leo's Grandevous, who said that hers is a “hard-working family that has been playing by the rules since day one.”  Sciancalepore is also a member of the Hoboken Economic Recovery Task Force.

"It's a shame that other businesses that fail to comply with basic rules for the safety of the public have ruined for all of us," she added. 

Hoping to avoid a prolonged continuation of the lockdown, Bhalla adds, "Please, take measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 this weekend and throughout the summer, and remember that outdoor settings with social distancing are much safer than indoor gatherings with others."

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