GARWOOD, NJ — (Updated at 10:42 p.m.) The borough on Tuesday walked back portions of a local state of emergency order that would have placed limitations on shopping at grocery stores. The shops, however, are voluntarily maintaining a portion of the mayor’s request.
Mayor Sara Todisco in a statement said that after hearing from state officials, she lifted the restrictions applying to the ShopRite of Garwood and Kings Food Markets, but that both businesses agreed to comply with her request to limit the first two hours of daily store operations to customers age 55 and up. People in that age bracket are more susceptible to the impacts of COVID-19.
“State officials have been reaching out to municipalities and counties today in an effort to promote uniformity in emergency responses. In respect of their requests, I have lifted the regulations pertaining to grocery stores in the Borough of Garwood,” Todisco said.
The directive issued Monday would have relegated customers’ permission to grocery shop locally depending on their last name’s placement in the alphabet, with some allowed to shop on even numbered days and others permitted to shop on odd numbered days.
The directive that the building occupancy “not exceed 50% of allowed capacity” is also no longer in effect.
Todisco told NJ Advance Media she pulled back portions of the restrictions after hearing from the state Attorney General. The restrictions were lifted before they were set to go in effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the report said.
In neighboring Westfield, Mayor Shelley Brindle issued a similar request Monday night that grocery stores not exceed 50% capacity. Westfield had not declared a state of emergency as of Tuesday evening.
Beginning Thursday, Stop & Shop stores, including the one in Westfield, announced it would reserve store hours 6 a.m. — 7:30 a.m. for people 60 and up. People in that demographic are more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19, health officials have said.
Trader Joe’s in Westfield has reduced its store hours to 9 a.m. — 7 p.m. as a result of COVID-19.
As of Tuesday evening, state Health Department figures showed the number of coronavirus cases in Union County had risen to 15, from 8 reported on Monday. Those included one case in Garwood and three in Westfield, municipal officials said.
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