March 31, 2020

Mayor Baraka asks for day of fasting and prayer and implores Newark residents to act “as a family to help each other stay alive”

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In his most impassioned daily COVID-19 briefing to date, Mayor Ras J. Baraka appealed to residents to act civically and responsibly to protect the lives of their loved ones and neighbors by following the City’s strict shelter in place rules.

During his 5 p.m. Facebook Live update yesterday, Mayor Baraka announced a “day of fasting and prayer” and asked all Newarkers to look to their faith, whatever it may be, “because we need all the help we can get.”

The announcement of the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. fasting and prayer day was symbolic of the Mayor’s call for unity.

“We all must adhere to the rules,” the Mayor said. “We must take care of each other. We must do this because people are dying. We must to do this as a Newark family. When we talk about ‘Newark strong’ it means we have to do everything we can to help each other stay alive.”

The Mayor once again asked for support of every Newark resident to stay inside, and to venture out quickly only for food, medicine or the need for immediate medical attention.

“Now is not the time to hang out at the corner, now is not the time to sit with everybody on the stoop, now is not the time to go to the playground to play basketball,” the Mayor said. “Stay inside. Stay alive. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe.”

The Mayor also announced the cities of East Orange, Orange and Irvington were joining Newark’s lockdown and the towns will now stop people from travelling between them. An official joint announcement will come later today.

“We are on a lockdown. It may sound Draconian and it may seem unfair and it may sound like people are oppressing you, but we need you to stay inside. Why? Because it is dangerous to come out. It is dangerous to you and everybody you come in contact with.”

For those that continue to ignore his executive order, Mayor Baraka promised heightened enforcement, which could lead to criminal charges and business shutdowns for repeat offenders.

“We are turning it up. Why? Because people are dying. Why? Because we love you,” the Mayor said.

Police have written nearly 200 summonses for people violating lockdown rules by congregating on the streets and the Mayor said aggressive enforcement will continue, even if means filing criminal charges against repeat offenders.

People ignoring the lockdown will be given municipal tickets, with fines ranging from $30 to $200, Mayor Baraka said. Repeat offenders will be charged by the Essex County Prosecutor with “obstruction of law” and will have to answer charges in Superior Court.

For stores and shops that open in defiance of the Mayor Baraka’s order, or ones who do not enforce customer social distancing rules, the Mayor promised, “We will shut you down. We will shut you down.”

The Mayor noted the people not adhering to rules were far from the majority of Newarkers, most of whom remain sequestered.

He also acknowledged people on the front lines, giving “shout-outs” to police, nurses, doctors, City health department employees, firefighters now delivering meals, cleaning people sanitizing buildings and store management at Walgreens and Shop-Rite for keeping their employees and customers safe by enforcing social distance.

“We have to keep them safe, too, by limiting our contact,” the Mayor said. ““This is serious. If you were a family member of the people who died or tested positive, you would know how serious this is.”

- Newark News