Hoboken mayor orders residents to self-isolate for a week, sick or not

By Eric Strauss
Hoboken | Mar 17, 2020 at 5:07 pm

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla took one of the state’s strongest stances in the fight against the spread of coronavirus, calling on all city residents to self-isolate, whether they are sick or symptomatic or not.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Bhalla read an open letter that, in part, criticized people for going out to bars, restaurants and parks, despite medical advice to the contrary.

“It’s time to dig deep, and ask ourselves the question — have we done everything within our power to limit this spread, through our own actions, if our region suffers the way Italy has suffered?” he asked. “And the answer, so far, is no.”

That belief has spurred Bhalla to the new policy, which is similar to measures taken in the San Francisco Bay Area to try to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“In Hoboken today, we’re issuing a new policy of self-isolation within our mile square,” Bhalla said. “I’ve previously advised residents that if you’re sick, to stay home, call your doctor and self-isolate. That is simply not enough. Whether you feel sick or not, all residents should immediately begin self-isolating at home. The policy, similar to the one enacted in San Francisco, requires people to stay home except for essential needs, the purchasing of food, care for a family member or friend, to get health care, or employment where remote work is not possible. It’s a fundamental change in the way we operate on a day-to-day basis.”

The measure is slated to start at 9 a.m. Wednesday and last seven days, Bhalla said at the news conference.

Hoboken is the nation’s fourth-most-densely populated city, Bhalla noted, saying the close quarters could easily exacerbate health issues.

“This will hopefully spur other municipalities and states to take similar actions, with more residents adopting self-isolation, which will save lives,” he said.

Bhalla said Hoboken has five positive coronavirus cases, but the number is expected to rise “substantially.”

“Listen to me,” he said, “Hoboken will get through this. We will all get through this, but we have to do the right thing, and we have to do it now. I know this is not easy. But I shudder at the thought of looking back on what we could have done now, knowing that our region could become the next Italy, before it’s literally too late.”

Bhalla offered other details:

  • Activities such as running or similar exercise are permitted if social distancing is observed;
  • Eateries can continue operating takeout and deliver service;
  • Travel is restricted to employment purposes; and
  • All non-essential businesses — including retailers, salons and more — are to be closed.

Read more from ROI-NJ on coronavirus:

Eric Strauss | estrauss@roi-nj.com | @acerimrat