NEWARK, NJ -- Wedding plans for early spring will have to be postponed for anyone planning to be married by the Essex County Clerk's office.
"All weddings have been suspended at this time," Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin said on Wednesday.
Marriages performed via the clerk are just one temporary casualty of the COVID-19 coronavirus threat that has swept the nation and the globe in March.
Durkin said that, in addition to weddings, "passports, notary republics, registering business names and filing construction liens are other services that we have also suspended."
According to Durkin, the only essential services ongoing at the clerk's office right now are planning for school board elections and for the June primary.
"We are hearing that Friday there is going to be a decision on elections," Durkin said. "We're waiting for the state to make a decision on elections."
The Essex County Clerk's office is operating with an on-site skeleton crew of just four people, all of whom are there for essential services.
"Everything is so fluid. Things are changing by the day, and we don't know ourselves what the next step will be," Durkin said. "No one can foresee what's going to happen next. This is an invisible enemy right now. We're still not sure the extent of the spread of the virus."
This is not the first major, county-wide crisis that Durkin has experienced in his 14-year tenure as clerk.
"Hurricane Sandy was still the biggest challenge," Durkin said of the 2012 super storm, "but this isn't over. I don't know where this will go. We're not set up to live like this. This is a society. These are tough times for a lot of people."
Essex County had 32 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon--the second-most of any county in New Jersey besides Bergen, which has reported 84 confirmed cases.