In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in his city, the mayor of Newark has ordered a stringent shelter-in-place measure for the entire city.
Mayor Ras Baraka made the announcement Wednesday evening, with a press release from the city saying that the mandate will be enforced in a "more muscular way."
In the latest measure, Baraka strongly advised all residents to stay in their homes as much as possible, unless it is an emergency. People would still be allowed to go to the grocery store, pharmacy or doctor, and stepping outside briefly for fresh air and/or to walk a dog would be permitted. However, those looking to step out for a brief break are asked to stay close to the front or back of their homes, or go onto a porch or terrace.
Essential employees would still be allowed to go to work, and all children would need to be accompanied by an adult when leaving their home. All adults were asked to leave their homes in pairs, if possible, with the largest group out being a family of five. Anyone outside would still need to adhere to the CDC's guidelines to maintain a six-foot distance between others.
"We have to take this situation very, very seriously,” Baraka said. “The majority of our residents understand this and are following the rules. But some are not and continue to congregate on the streets and not maintain proper social distance. Those people are putting their own health at risk, as well everyone they come into contact with. It’s dangerous and it has to stop.”
Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said that police will be aggressively enforcing the new rules.
"We will continue to be out with loudspeakers moving people off the corners and streets,” Ambrose said, calling the crisis a matter of public safety. “We will begin with verbal warnings. We want to save lives, not make arrests."
In addition to city hall's new rules, the Archdiocese of Newark announced new directives as well. As of March 25, all wakes and funerals would have to be postponed with no exceptions, regardless of the size of the group. Baptisms and weddings would also be put off, and all churches would have to be closed and locked until further notice, the archdiocese said.
Newark has had 123 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and two deaths. The city represents a fairly large chunk of the 4,400 cases that had been found in the state as of Wednesday night.