The mayor of Hoboken is asking people to shelter in place and adopt a policy of "self-isolation," the first tri-state city to make such a dramatic suggestion to help curb the spread of COVID-19. While he doesn't legally have the authority to mandate such an edict, Mayor Ravindeer Bhalla sent a strong message to the people of his city Tuesday: stay at home.
"We have a responsibility to one another ... we must do everything we can, and we must do it now," Bhalla said in a Tuesday afternoon press conference. "I shutter at the thought of what we could've done ... before our region becomes the next Italy before its too late. It would be the mistake of our generation."
Bhalla also amped up his city's social distancing efforts, restricting public gatherings to just five people. The tri-state mandate agreed to by the governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut currently limits gatherings to 50 people.
The mayor said that activities like running, jogging, biking, etc. are still allowed, as long as the social distancing policy of six feet of separation is followed. Bhalla also said that the city doesn't expect "100 percent" adherence to the policy, but also said there would be no crackdowns, "you will not see people arrested" for not following the guidelines.
"Hoboken will get thru this, we have to do the right thing, and we have to do it right now," Bhalla said.
Other measures put in place include a restriction on road usage, a closure of all nonessential businesses (salons, retail stores, etc.), and encouraging places of worship to halt services starting at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Restaurant and bars will still have take-out and delivery options available.
The drastic measures mirror some taken in other cities across the nation. Several counties in San Francisco have been ordered to shelter in place; people are told to stay in their homes apart from basic travel to get groceries and handle emergencies. Certain workers are also exempt from the shelter-in-place order.
New York City Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday that his administration was considering a potential shelter-in-place order to curb the "fast-growing crisis" and that New Yorkers should be prepared for it. A decision is expected within about 48 hours, he said.
Tracking Coronavirus in Tri-State
Bhalla has been at the forefront of aggressive moves to slow the spread of infection in his state. Days after Hoboken officials announced the city's first positive case of COVID-19, the mayor effectively closed bars and restaurants and declared a mandatory nightly curfew.
Some of those actions have since been adopted across the tri-state area. While New Jersey has a suggested curfew in place -- between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has said that could become mandatory if needed.