SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The following message from Village President Sheena Collum has just been released:

March 15, 2020

Neighbors:

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In the past few days, I have witnessed the generosity of people who are delivering food and donating funds to our vulnerable populations. I have seen many of our businesses take drastic and necessary measures to implement safety precautions to protect their customers ranging from virtual classes to curbside delivery. I’m also following the various advocacy efforts of our neighbors who are tracking and commenting on legislative bills that will provide relief to individuals and businesses who may be financially decimated by the coronavirus. You’re all really stepping up!

But to me, the most impressive actions have been those of personal sacrifice and extreme behavior modification in committing to “social distancing”. These are the folks who have remained at home either alone or with their immediate family and greatly adjusted their lifestyle to be one of necessity versus convenience. I, along with my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, salute you and are doing the same.

As a reminder, the Center for Disease Control defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance, approximately 6 feet, from others when possible."

That is our goal, 6 feet.

As for those who believe the rest of us are overreacting and have no interest in behavior modification, I am now speaking to you directly.

  • The coronavirus does not have a cure and is disproportionately deadlier to our older adults.
  • Our healthcare system does not have the bed capacity or a fraction of the medical supplies (i.e. respirators) we need to support an unmitigated coronavirus outbreak. This why we all must contribute to “flattening the curve”.
  • Wake up, it’s here! This virus started 7,000+ miles away and it’s now in our backyard. While there are still no confirmed cases in South Orange, there are now eleven (11) cases in Essex County including one in our sister town of Maplewood.

I am urging all South Orange community stakeholders to take this global pandemic seriously and wise up now. We are collectively responsible for each other.

In addition to the measures announced on March 13, 2020 when a State of Emergency was declared, please be advised of the following updates effective immediately:

Public Parks and Recreation

  • All public playgrounds are closed and are being fenced.
  • Fields are not open to the public for group activities.
  • The Basketball Court is closed. 

Transportation

  • Jitney service is suspended for both commuters and seniors.

Businesses

  • We are urging residents to avoid situations where safe, social distancing can’t be maintained (remember, a minimum of 6ft).
  • We continue to encourage residents to patronize our local businesses by using delivery or takeout.
  • We continue to encourage residents to purchase gift cards! It’s never too early to shop for special occasions. Look local first, we need that commitment now more than ever before.
  • All restaurants who choose to keep their dining rooms open will be required to limit the number of dining patrons to 50% of capacity and to maintain 6 feet of distance between each patron group seating.

Parking Enforcement

  • The South Orange Parking Authority and South Orange Police Department will be utilizing “courtesy/light enforcement” for the time being. We all recognize the flexibility we need right now to better support access to curbside pick-up and deliveries in appreciation for our businesses that are adapting to social distancing norms (remember, a minimum of 6ft).

We will continue to apprise the community of updates in a timely fashion. We are currently preparing a “virtual town hall” which will be announced shortly.

Lastly, South Orange and Maplewood are pleased to announce that two municipality-sponsored funds have been established to support seniors and families. Please consider making a donation.

In solidarity and safety (remember, a minimum of 6ft),

Sheena C. Collum
Village President