June 3, 2020

As Newark reopens, Mayor Baraka asks residents to maintain the habits that curtailed the disease

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Newark -- (June 3) 2020 – As the City begins the first phase of reopening, some things will change, and some will stay the same.

Let’s begin with what won’t change. Keeping proper social distance. Wearing masks. Frequent hand washing. Constant deep cleaning of surfaces. Ongoing testing and contact tracing. Sheltering in place for those that test positive.

Reopening doesn’t mean the COVID-19 threat is over. It means it is being managed.

And how are we managing? By Newark residents keeping proper social distance, wearing masks, frequently washing their hands, constantly cleaning of surfaces, getting tested, sheltering in place for those who are positive.

Mayor Ras J. Baraka said he will lead Newark’s ongoing battle with the disease by example.

“You will not see me in public without a mask, until there is a vaccine,” the Mayor said during Monday’s press conference.

That might be a commitment that takes him into 2021 but it fortifies what the Mayor has said from the very outset of this outbreak:

The safety and health of Newark residents is, by far, his top priority, and the City will not be pressured into reopening too quickly, recklessly endangering the lives of its residents.

So the reopening plan, is just that – plan. It is subject to change, especially if COVID-19 infections begin to spike. As Mayor Baraka has said, “We are advancing but we are leaving ourselves room to retreat.”

The opening will come in three phases, concluding with a fourth Mayor Baraka described as “the new normal.”

So, as the City moves forward here are a few things Newark residents should know about the reopening plan.

• Our phased approach for reopening will be taken using CDC guidelines, which recommended 14-day intervals of advancement.

• Phase One is June 1 through June 14. Phase Two begins June 15 and ends June 28, as planned. Phase Three starts June 29 through July 12, 2020.  “The New Normal” begins July 13 and may carry well beyond July 26.

• The plan was developed by some of the best minds and problem-solvers in the City. The Newark Recovery and Reopening Strikeforce is a group of more than 50 distinguished community leaders representing Newark partnerships in public health, data and analysis, economic recovery and business, education, faith organizations, arts and culture institutions, community outreach and communications.

• In every phase of the reopening regarding every public space and building, including City offices, businesses, churches, schools, etc., constant deep cleaning and sanitizing will be standard operating procedure to keep our residents and students safe.

• In what appears to be as ground-breaking public policy, Mayor Baraka is immediately asking every business in the City that wants to reopen to submit a safety plan about sanitization, social distancing, making PPE for employees and demanding PPE from customers. Businesses cannot reopen until those plans are approved by the City. Businesses that attempt to reopen without approval will have their licenses revoked.

• The City will allow family-oriented cookouts recommending gatherings of 10 people or up to 15 if there is enough space for social distancing. Block parties are on hold until further notice.

• The City curfew will be extended to 9:30 p.m., but all gathering must end at 9 p.m. to give people time to get home.

• In Phase One, Faith-based organizations will continue to hold remote services while engaging in deep cleaning and providing congregants with signage and other information so they may safety return to worship. Houses of worship will also be re-arranging interiors so congregants, pastors, choirs, etc., can maintain proper social distancing when they reopen for services.

• All summer schools, enrichment programs, pre-college courses run by Newark Public Schools will continue to operate online. Summer reading requirements for all grades will be provided digitally, too.

• Swimming pools and splash pads will be closed until further notice, while undergoing deep cleaning and disinfecting. Field rentals and rec center rentals remain suspended until further notice.

• The City will continue to distribute PPE to residents.

• The City will institute the color-coded risk placards the Mayor has previously spoken about. Red signs, which symbolize the highest risk, have already been placed in smaller parks. Yellow signs will suggest medium risk, and green will be for low-risk areas.

Mayor Baraka is asking residents to acknowledge COVID-19 remains a “lethal” threat to our community. Now that the weather is warmer, and there is a temptation to abandon the practices that have worked in slowing the spread, he asks all residents to still adhere to the social distancing guidelines and mask-wearing policies and perhaps rid of us the threat until treatments and vaccines are developed.

To read all of the guidelines, please visit our COVID-19 website.