Mayor Ras Baraka gives an update on the coronavirus in Newark on Facebook Live (City of Newark, NJ City Hall/Facebook photo)

Urban News Staff Reports

In a sweeping effort to bolster Newark’s defense against the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Ras J. Baraka has announced a strict City-wide “shelter-in-place” mandate. As of Wednesday, March 25, Newark has 123 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and a total of two deaths.
 The mayor is strongly advising that people stay home and not come out unless it’s an emergency. Exceptions: to go to the supermarket, local store for essentials, pharmacy, doctor, walk dogs, step out and get fresh air in front or back of home/doorstep/porch/terrace, or if an essential employee. 
Also, children need to be accompanied by an adult and people should only leave their homes in pairs. In instances where that is not possible such as single parent/grandparent households, then the most should be a family of no more than five at a time. While out, they need to maintain the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation of keeping six feet apart. The Mayor sent a letter out to all open businesses this week demanding they enforce social distancing in their stores. 
 “We have to take this situation very, very seriously,” the Mayor 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 F. Ambrose said police will be aggressively enforcing the rules.
“We will continue to be out with loudspeakers moving people off the corners and streets,” Ambrose said. “We will begin with verbal warnings. We want to save lives, not make arrests.
“But this is a matter of public safety, and the community has an equal responsibility to make sure we all stay healthy and safe,” Director Ambrose said. “I urge our residents to call police if they see groups of people hanging out and violating this mandate.”
Last week, the COVID-19 areas of concern were mapped by the City’s Health and Community Wellness Department, the Department of Public Safety, and the Office of Emergency Management, and the Mayor ordered strict shelter-in-place for three separate areas of the City.
The all-city quarantine went into effect Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

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