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NEWARK, N.J.— As New Jersey continues to see a surge in COVID-19 cases, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka Thursday defended the strict restrictions implemented in the state’s largest city.

Recent data has become reminiscent of case numbers the city saw back in April and May during the height of the pandemic.

The city has seen up to 220 new positive cases a day, according to Mayor Baraka, bringing Newark’s cumulative case totla to 13,225 and the death toll to 680.

Although Gov. Phil Murphy issued a 10 p.m. curfew on indoor dining, Baraka issued an 8 p.m. curfew on all non-essential businesses. All businesses, except grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations, must close at 8 p.m.

Exceptions include certain neighborhoods where Baraka ordered everyone to stay inside after 9 on weekdays and after 10 on weekends. This includes parts of zip codes 07104, 07107 and all of 07105, with the exception of the airport.

In some areas of Newark, over a third of people tested are positive. This has prompted a mandatory curfew for all people in certain neighborhoods of Newark – everyone in those areas being asked to stay inside.

The mayor also said there should be no holiday gatherings of 10 people or more at any facility, excluding religious services, which have a 25% capacity.

Anyone who violates orders will be closed for 48 hours for a first-offense violation. Establishments will be closed for two weeks for a second violation. A third violation prompts a 30-day closure, while anything after will “close the business indefinitely.”

“We have no choice, but to add restrictions,” Baraka said.

He attributed COVID fatigue as a factor to the increase in cases as well as family or close-contact spread.

Those caught outside past curfew will be given warnings at first, but summonses will be handed out for repeat offenders.

“We have to take care of each other,” said Mayor Baraka.

“It’s about health and data. That’s it,” Baraka said of the strict restrictions. “The decision should be about data.”

“If you do something and it doesn’t work, you need to do more.”