Teaneck on lockdown: Closes many businesses, gathering places immediately — in what is preview for Bergen County as a whole

By Tom Bergeron
Teaneck/Bergen County | Mar 15, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Teaneck Township Manager Dean Kazinci said Sunday morning the township would go on a virtual lockdown with nearly all commercial locations closed or severely restricted, and nearly all recreational facilities, both indoor and outside, shut down.

Kazinci said he knows the restrictions will cause hardship, but he said he is doing them out of necessity.

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said such measures will soon be coming to the other 69 municipalities in the county.

Bergen County has, by far, the most known coronavirus cases in the state, with 32 cases. Teaneck has, by far, the most of any municipality, with 18. Both of those numbers are growing by the day and likely already are under the true number, both officials said.

Kazinci said the following are closed, effective immediately, in Teaneck:

  • Bars, taverns and clubs;
  • Gyms and health clubs;
  • Day care centers;
  • Barbershops, hair salons and nail salons;
  • Private recreational sports programs that involve personal contact, including but not limited to boxing, karate, taekwondo, basketball, soccer and football;
  • Parks, playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, and recreation fields.

The following businesses and organizations will have severe restrictions:

  • Restaurants, including those with plenary retail consumption licenses, are permitted to serve takeout or delivery service only;
  • Grocery stores are to restrict entry to only one member of an individual family and to permit, at most, up to 25 or 50 customers (each store was given a specific count);
  • Banking and financial institutional institutions should practice social distancing and make every attempt to limit the number of customers, but he did not give a specific number;
  • Houses of worship are strongly encouraged to temporarily suspend all services or other communal activities.

Kazinci strongly encouraged all workplaces to implement and observe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workplace social distance measures, such as replacing in-person meetings with teleworking and modifying, postponing or canceling mass gatherings.

Kazinci also recommend that all places of public gatherings of 50 or more people use their best efforts to report the names, addresses, phone numbers or other appropriate contact information for all employees, patrons, visitors, vendors or any other persons within their facilities in order to aid health officials in the event contact tracing activities should become necessary in connection with their operations.

“I realize the impact some of the decisions will have in our community, and I stand by them,” he said. “They are not being made to alarm our community, but will further serve to safeguard our residents from the spread of the virus. I can’t stress it enough these actions will help save lives and further prevent the spread.”

Tedesco said county residents should expect more places to adopt these measures. And they should expect it soon.

“I have to tell you, from a county standpoint, the things that you just heard, more than likely, in the next few days, will come to fruition throughout the county,” he said. “And I say that from a preparation standpoint to the million people that live here. The steps that Teaneck is taking now, all residents should prepare themselves for these and more as the number increase.

“This is a model that we will use throughout the county.”

Tedesco said he also understands the hardship this will cause but stands by his actions despite pleas from the business community, he said.

“I know the extreme impact that they have on the people and business owners of Bergen County, but there’s no other choice,” he said. “I receive phone calls, text messages and emails from CEOs and business associates, advocates, telling me that those businesses should remain open, not allowing them to remain open will cause them to go bankrupt and cause thousands of people to lose their jobs.

“Yes, I understand those impacts. (And) when I received a letter from a signed esquire, I really got the message. But, let me be clear: I will not change what I believe is the right thing to do. And what I’m doing is saving lives of my fellow residents of Bergen County.”

Tedesco said they are all necessary.

“Let me say that the virus is real,” he said. “When I put the restrictions in place to take other action is because people are getting very sick at some level and some have already died. Emergency personnel responders fear for their lives. Doctors, nurses and health care workers are putting their lives at risk every day to save our family members. So, no, I don’t take the action that I did lightly.”

Read more from ROI-NJ on coronavirus: