Newark to close non-essential businesses, including restaurants, at 8 p.m., starting Tuesday

Mayor Baraka institutes number of restrictions due to surge of COVID-19 cases in city

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka isn’t taking any chances with a second wave of COVID-19 in the city.

Baraka announced Monday that the city will close non-essential businesses nightly at 8 p.m., requiring restaurants and eateries to end dining in at the same time, beginning Tuesday night.

In addition, beauty salons, nail salons and barbershops will only be open by appointment only, and gyms and health clubs will have to close for half an hour each hour for sanitizing.

Baraka said the city will reassess the situation after the night of Nov. 10 to determine the next steps.

The announcement comes after a spike of cases Sunday, when Newark had more cases than every other Essex County municipality combined.

“This is not the first time COVID-19 has threatened our city and its residents at this magnitude and, once again, we will meet this challenge with determination and guided by data,” Baraka said. “We are Newark strong and can get through this together. We did it once before and we can do it again.”

A week ago Sunday, Oct. 18, Newark reported a test positivity rate of 11.2%, using a three-day rolling average, in comparison to New Jersey’s test positivity rate of 5.28%.

‍Based on testing information for Newark from Oct. 11 to Oct. 17, which counts each test, the city’s positivity rate is 11.8% and the highest rate has been determined to be in the East Ward (25.3% in ZIP code 07105). The city’s positivity rate has not been this high since the week ending May 23.

Because of this, ‍Newark officials also are discouraging all parties, indoor and outdoor festivals, and large family gatherings until further notice.

Dr. Mark Wade, the director of health and community wellness for the city, said residents and workers need to come together.

“Until, and even after, a vaccine is made available to every Newarker, the most potent immunization we will have available is a decision to take personal responsibility to obey and model the recommendations that keep us all safe,” he said. “All of us will need each other to get us through as individuals, neighborhoods, communities and a city, and to save the lives of those we love the most, each other.”

‍Baraka said Newark will gain help from the state with access to rapid testing and more contact tracers, as well as a space for people to safely quarantine.

‍According to a release from the city, the following will be strictly enforced — without exception:

  • All stores except supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations will close at 8 p.m. every day. They will be allowed to deliver and sell by takeout, with no indoor ordering or lines.
  • All restaurants, bars, etc., must close their indoor service at 8 p.m. and outdoor service at 11 p.m. They must also take temperatures of all patrons coming inside and ask them if they have been in touch with anyone with COVID-19.
  • All barbershops, beauty parlors, nail salons and related establishments must have appointments only and no waiting inside.
  • All gyms must clean and sanitize for the first 30 minutes of each hour. During that time, people can stay inside or return after the cleaning. Everyone must wear masks.
  • ‍All indoor establishments must have sanitizer available.
  • City Hall will be open by appointment only.
  • The city will close all recreation centers to everything but school-related programs for essential employees.
  • All sports activities and open park practices and games in the East Ward are canceled.
  • The city is encouraging all employees to be tested immediately and periodically thereafter.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Newark as of Oct. 23 was 10,041, with 673 deaths.