NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – It wasn’t a difficult decision to cancel the City Council meeting on Wednesday, considering that the call for social distancing measures continues to grow and the number of items on the agenda would have been light.
“That was a big part of it, because it was small,” Council President John Anderson said. “The reports had the coronavirus peaking this week. We saw we had no ordinances on first or second reading. We only had a few resolutions. So, that was about it.
“Why put anybody else at risk, if they're talking about this as a peak week or something like that?”
Wednesday’s meeting would have been held using via teleconference technology much like the one held April 1.
Anderson and fellow council members Rebecca Escobar, Glenn Fleming and Kevin Egan and a smattering of other city officials made sure to maintain their distance as they sat in Council Chambers for the meeting. Vice President Suzanne Sicora Ludwig joined the meeting remotely via phone, as did other city officials.
Members of the public were able to participate by calling in and listening for their turn to speak.
Monday night’s Planning Board meeting also made good use of teleconference technology, which is good considering the many guidelines instituted by Gov. Phil Murphy over the past few weeks to promote social distancing as the best defense against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most notable has been Executive Order 107 – which is known as the Stay at Home Order – which instructs non-essential personnel such as health care workers and members of the media to stay in. According to the order, there are few exceptions in which residents can leave their homes, such as when they go shopping for food or if they are seeking medical attention.
Murphy said at Monday’s daily COVID-19 press conference that there is a total to 64,584 positive cases in the state and the death toll is at 2,443.
According to Middlesex County officials, 5,665 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and 420 of them are New Brunswick residents.
“I spoke to the attorney (TK Shamy) who was speaking to the mayor (Jim Cahill) about the agenda,” Anderson said. “I found there wasn’t much going on there. So, he and I talked and I said what was on there and we asked the other council members if they didn’t mind. So, basically, it was our decision.
“I just thought there was no sense putting everybody at risk for a couple of resolutions that we’re not really binding right now, that we need to get done.”
Items typically on every council agenda that help keep the city functioning, such as approving the payroll, can be done on an emergency basis, Anderson said.
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for May 6 at 5:30 p.m., according to the city's website.