Officials and police officers in New Jersey's largest city will continue to educate the public on wearing masks through the "Mask Up Newark" campaign, but that will soon change when summonses start to be distributed to those that do not comply.
Nearly 70 volunteers with the City of Newark are serving as "ambassadors," handing out flyers reminding residents that wearing a mask is a matter of respect and responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Volunteer mask ambassador Paul Oliver said he wanted to help out his town.
Newark Police Deputy Chief Jose Gonzalez took part in Tuesday's effort. He said that for now it will continue to just be an educational campaign.
"We just want to remind the public that now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal," he said.
However, police will eventually move to enforcement by first warning people about wearing masks at outdoor public spaces and large gatherings where social distance is not possible.
"If you go on public transportation... if you walk into an area with a crowd of people, please wear your mask," Gonzalez said.
In the days ahead, police will begin issuing summonses to those not following the guidelines.
The move is being praised by residents.
Patrick Lettre, who was having lunch with his family agrees on the updated order announced last week by Gov Phil Murphy mandating masks to be worn outside.
"I think it’s very important... people gotta keep in mind that this is still going out there," Lettre said, adding: "For us here in a restaurant, you obviously gotta take off your mask, but once you leave, you gotta put it back on."
The governor's executive order on masks excludes children younger than 2-years-old, those partaking in some sports activities, people who are eating and drinking, as well as those with underlying health conditions.
Newark officials are asking for people's cooperation, emphasizing that curbing the spread of the virus is a matter of public safety that impacts everyone.
Gonzalez said that everyone's cooperation "has been one of the biggest factors in our success" of curbing the spread.