Newark rolls out new restrictions amid rise in COVID-19 cases

NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880) — Newark is rolling out new restrictions as the city's coronavirus infection rate nears 12 percent.

Starting Tuesday, non-essential businesses will have to close at 8 p.m.

Indoor dining at restaurants will also end every night at 8 p.m. Outdoor dining service will be allowed through 11 p.m.

Restaurants must also do temperature checks on customers coming inside and ask them if they've been in touch with anyone with COVID-19.

Beauty salons, nail salons and barbershops can remain open by appointment only. City Hall will also be open by appointment only.

Gyms and health clubs will have to close for 30 minutes every hour for sanitizing.

All indoor establishments must have sanitizer available.

The city is also closing recreation centers to everything but school-related programs for essential employees. The city is also canceling all sports activities and open park practices and games in the East Ward, which has the highest rate of cases in Newark at 25%.

Parties, indoor and outdoor festivals, and large family gatherings are also discouraged until further notice.

The restrictions will remain in place at least through Nov. 10, at which point the next steps will be determined.

"We are trying to be as methodic as possible and as cautious as possible," Mayor Ras Baraka said. "This seems desperate, but it's a desperate moment."

Baraka said the number of cases reported in Newark is more than every other city in Essex County combined.

The county saw 155 new cases on Sunday.

Newark's positivity rate is 11.8%, the highest since May 23.

"This is not the first time COVID-19 has threatened our city and its residents at this magnitude and once again, we will meet this challenge with determination and guided by data," Mayor Baraka said. "We are Newark strong and can get through this together. We did it once before and we can do it again."

New Jersey has topped 1,000 new cases statewide for eight straight days.