Newark issues indoor mask mandate in public spaces to curb COVID uptick

Woman wears a mask walking in Newark

A woman wears a mask as she walks through downtown Newark, New Jersey on Oct. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEWARK, N.J. — Folks in Newark will need to mask up before they enter indoor public spaces under an executive order signed on Monday by Mayor Ras Baraka.

The indoor mask mandate was issued as the state and city continue to see a concerning spike in COVID-19 cases, spurred by the omicron and delta variants.

“We are still in the midst of a pandemic and need to take whatever steps are necessary to safeguard and best ensure the health, safety, and welfare of our residents,” Baraka said in a statement on Monday. “I urge residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Get vaccinated and tested, especially during this holiday season, as we gather and spend more time with family and friends.”

On Tuesday, the state Health Department reported a total of 6,840 new COVID cases statewide. Hospitalizations rose from 1,902 to 2,034.

Baraka on Monday did not provide new case numbers specific to Newark, however, he reported a three-day rolling average positivity rate of 11.89% on Dec. 14 — shortly before statewide daily numbers began to sharply increase.

His executive order states, “all residents and visitors must wear a face mask at all times while indoors at any public facility in the city.”

Additionally, people who sit at bars must wear a mask unless they are actively drinking or eating.

Baraka also warned that more restrictions may be issued if the city’s rolling positivity rate surpasses 15%.

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