“Now, we’re up to more than 220 positive cases per day,” Baraka said.
Speaking at the city’s Emergency Operations Center on Thursday, the mayor and Newark’s health department said the citywide test positivity rate is about 19% but as high as 35% in the East Ward.
“So, just in 30 days we’ve had a quadrupling just in October of the number of people who have tested positive,” Dr. Mark Wade said. “The primary drivers are family spread.”
City agencies planned to be out Thursday giving warnings and then summonses to those on the street past curfew in some zip codes and businesses could be shut down for up to a month for repeated non-compliance.
“We’re going to stores. People are in there without masks. People are serving food. If they’re behind the counter without a mask we’re closing the place down. We did that in April. We’re going to do it again now,” Baraka said.
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There are now stricter curfews for specific zip codes, and rules for sports and businesses.
The curfews are 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends in three zip codes where the infection rate is high.
Police will enforce this first with warnings, then summonses.
Gatherings indoors must be no more than 10 people, excluding religious services and political activity, and sports are canceled for at least the next two weeks.
Across the city, restaurants and bars must close indoor dining by 8 p.m., two hours earlier than statewide. But, Baraka noted, they “can obviously do deliveries and pickups after that.”
“We close you at 8, you’re mad because we’re closing you two hours more than the governor at 10? I think it’s selfish. I think it’s selfish in my mind,” Baraka added.
Meanwhile, for the entire state of New Jersey, “Everything is going in the wrong direction,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
The governor said colder weather is pushing people indoors and COVID fatigue is to blame. On Thursday morning, he explained his rationale for closing restaurants at 10 p.m. statewide.
“In too many cases, restaurants were morphing as the night went on, not in name, but in the substance into clubs into lounges. People were just letting their guard down, particularly in and around bars. We had a lot of bartenders come back testing COVID positive,” Murphy said.
Baraka said Newark really should be taking restrictions even further, and just might, but he noted that elected officials all over the state are taking financial and mental health concerns amongst residents seriously, too.
“This ain’t no game. This is your life. This is something that you gotta be concerned about, your community. You gotta be concerned about other people’s health,” resident Shawn Wilson said.
“People make it about everything else. They’re making it about politics. Some people are making it about race. They’re making it about religious practices and freedom and liberty. It’s about health and data. That’s it,” Baraka said.
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