NEWARK, NJ — With more than 30 positive cases of coronavirus and two related deaths looming over the city, Mayor Ras Baraka imposed a shelter-in-place order for three distinct areas of Newark, telling residents in those communities to “stay inside unless there is an emergency.”
The mayor's order goes further than Gov. Phil Murphy's latest executive order signed at Rutgers-Newark on Saturday, which calls for New Jerseyans to mostly stay home and for all nonessential businesses to remain closed until further notice.
A second executive order signed by Murphy disallows any county or municipality to make additions or subtractions to these restrictions, putting Baraka's latest move at odds with the state.
The neighborhoods impacted by the mayor’s order are (click on the links for printable maps):
- Area 1: From Bloomfield Avenue to Verona Avenue and from Lake Street to Route 21.
- Area 2: Springfield Avenue to West Market Street, and Martin Luther King Boulevard to South 12th Street.
- Area 3: Avon Avenue to West Runyon Street, and Irvine Turner Boulevard to South 12th Street.
The mayor said the three neighborhoods were chosen based on mapping of hotspots of coronavirus gleaned from data collected by the Department of Health and Community Wellness.
“I know people like to say Newark is strong. The only way we can prove that we are actually strong is if we adhere to what we are asking you to do,” Baraka said. “I’m asking you to do things that are very difficult to do, but we need you do to it in order for us to get through this.”
The mayor made his announcement shortly after Murphy announced statewide restrictions on non-essential retail businesses that mirror much of what Newark put in place earlier this week.
The statewide order closes all retail businesses with the exception of grocery stores, farmer's markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store; pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries; medical supply stores; gas stations; convenience stores; ancillary stores within health care facilities; hardware and home improvement stores; banks and other financial institutions; laundromats and dry-cleaning services; stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years; pet stores; liquor stores; car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics; printing and office supply shops and mail and delivery stores.
Earlier in the week, Baraka closed all non-essential retail in the city, including liquor stores, but the second executive order signed by Murphy will allow liquor stores to operate in the city until 8 p.m. once again.
Baraka said he agreed with the governor’s protocol for the bulk of the city, but in the three neighborhoods, Baraka is asking these residents to leave their homes only for food or to get medicine or medical care. Going outside for fresh air is permitted as long as residents stay on their properties.
“We’re trying to flatten the curve, and in order to do that we need to take strict measures,” he said.
North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., whose ward includes Area 1, said he has been getting questions from constituents all afternoon about the conflicting messages.
"While there are a lot of questions about what this means for these areas, the bottom line is the residents need to stay off the streets and roads as much as possible to assist the containment of this deadly virus except to perform essential functions," Ramos said. "While different rules and restrictions imposed by various chief elected officials in our state may at times seem confusing, they are intended to safeguard the public during this critical time. The Governor today announced some common sense approaches that residents across the State of New Jersey need to follow."
Newark Housing Authority also released information today that three of the city’s housing projects were under 14-day quarantine, including Riverside Villa on Grafton Avenue, Oriental Village on Broadway and Bradley Court on Munn Avenue. Gathering of more than five people are not allowed, NHS said in a statement.