This article has been updated with comment from Mayor Ras Baraka. 

NEWARK, NJ — Mayor Ras Baraka’s announcement of another lockdown for Newark on Thursday set off a tide of confusion among local businesses and residents, but a person inside City Hall now said the “restrictions” are just an advisory. 

Baraka and Mark Wade, director of Health and Community Wellness, went on WBGO 88.3 FM’s Newark Today last night to advise that residents must stay inside from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4. 

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“We are going to lock the city down,” Baraka said. “We want people to shelter in place for 10 days, that’s the period that the CDC gives us for people to isolate themselves or quarantine themselves, and we only want folks to come out for essential purposes.”

Newark continues to lead the state and Essex County in new cases, its test positivity rate reaching 20% this week. As of Friday, it’s case count increased by 164, bringing the total since March to 1,4390. While the death rate remained stable in the first two weeks of the city’s surge, it has now risen to 694 compared to around 674 in early November. 

A source with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly on this matter told TAPinto Newark that the lockdown announcement was meant to serve only as an advisory to residents.

As of right now, there is no option for the city to legally enforce a shelter-in-place order as it supersedes the statewide executive order. This month, Gov. Phil Murphy allowed municipalities to enact some additional restrictions but has not yet given Newark permission to institute a full lockdown. 

Business owners in Newark on Friday were perplexed by the city’s lack of guidance on the matter and said they received no word about whether they are allowed to operate. The restrictions on businesses will remain the same as they have been since late October when the city reported it was reentering dangerous territory with its new COVID-19 cases. 

However, a measure to close off roads to the Ironbound between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekends will still move forward. After these hours, those wishing to enter the East Ward must show proof of residence, according to the Newark Department of Public Safety. 

The city would not respond to comment on Friday, but issued a statement from the mayor Saturday saying that Newark reached a 21% overall positivity rate and has surpassed 40% in the Ironbound. The statewide positivity rate sits just under 11%. 

“So, we are urging all Newark residents and businesses to follow the guidelines and instructions for this holiday season.," Baraka said in the statement. “We cannot risk a continual spread of COVID-19 in our community. We cannot go back to where we were in April and May. But what we can do is urge everyone to be responsible, cautious, and think of the greater good. People’s lives depend on this.” 

Chalkbeat Newark reported that city-operated learning centers will close temporarily to mitigate the surge. Though residents are advised to stay inside, businesses can continue operating as follows:

CURFEW

  • All non-essential businesses must close at 8 p.m. every day. All restaurants, bars, etc. must close their indoor service at 8 p.m. and outdoor service at 11 p.m. Due to the significant rise in COVID-19 positive cases, there is a 9 p.m. curfew in specific zip codes.

  • For zip code​s 07104, 07105, and 07107, a mandatory curfew is imposed.  No one should be on the street after 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 p.m. on weekend​s, unless traveling to or from work or if there is an emergency.

  • In 07104, the boundaries are 7th Avenue to 2nd Avenue and from Broadway to Clifton Avenue. 

  • In 07105, this is the entire area, not including the airport or the highways.  

  • In 07107, the boundaries are 3rd Avenue North to Berkley Avenue. North 3rd Street to 11th Street. 

SPORTS

  • All sports of any kind being played in the City shall cease immediately for a two-week period. During this time, all players, coaches, trainers, etc. must be tested for the COVID-19 virus and have to test negative to resume play.

  • When sports resume after this two-week period, all players, coaches, trainers, staff must be tested for the COVID-19 virus every week.

  • ​Those individuals not actively playing in the game must wear a face mask and practice social distancing (including coaches, players on the bench, referees, parents, staff, and spectators).

  • The City will consider canceling, rescheduling games, and/or practices or any other activity for two (2) weeks if two or more players/employees/staff, etc. on the team test positive for the virus.

  •  Any team or team member that doesn’t follow the face mask protocol may be subject to having their remaining games canceled, removed from the team, or terminated.

INDOOR/OUTDOOR GATHERINGS

  • Gatherings and/or events are limited to no more than 10 people. This shall not include any gatherings that include First Amendment rights (e.g. political and religious gatherings). 

SENIOR HOUSING

  • The City will conduct inspections of all long-term health care facilities. The City reserves the right to cease, limit or prohibit any visitation in the facility if there is an increase of COVID-19 positive cases, or a failure to follow COVID-19 protocols. 
  • No visitation is allowed at long term health care facilities for the next two weeks.

  • Senior housing buildings residents are allowed one non-essential visitor per unit per day.

  • All building managers/security must perform temperature checks of all individuals prior to entering the building. No one with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will be allowed inside.

RELIGIOUS SERVICES

  • Attendance is restricted to 25% capacity.

  • Anyone speaking or singing during religious services must wear a mask (including pastors while preaching).

  • No one with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will be allowed inside.

RESTAURANTS/BUSINESSES/OFFICES

  • Restaurants, businesses, and offices must follow face mask protocols.

  • All businesses must perform temperature checks of anyone entering the building and no one with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will be allowed inside.

  • No holiday (i.e. Thanksgiving) gatherings or events of ten (10) people or more at restaurants. 

  • Reservations for more than ten (10) people are not allowed. 


It is not clear whether City Hall will close or make changes to its operating hours. The city would not respond to comment on Friday.