ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — In continuation of the “lockdown” efforts and initiatives put forth by Mayors Ras Baraka of Newark, Ted Green of East Orange, Dwayne Warren of Orange and Tony Vauss of Irvington, the mayors decided April 4 to take further collective action. Given the proximity of their communities; the relative ease of travel between their neighborhoods; and the many shared points of culture, commerce and industry between the four cities, the mayors have decided to stay the course with the lockdown.
After implementing effective initiatives to help protect residents, including Operation Lockdown, Operation Wipe Down, Operation Clean Business and mobile wellness checks, the mayors met with their public directors, who each provided an update for those initiatives, which are currently in effect.
In addition to an 8 p.m. curfew, all four towns are committed to protecting their communities by urging residents to stay indoors, follow social distancing and close nonessential businesses, among other guidelines. Anyone violating those guidelines will be ticketed, fined or cited.
In Orange, according to Orange Police Director Todd Warren, citations are low because the police are doing daily compliance stops. He said that stores have been in general compliance. Ten citations have been issued.
“The consistent vigilant messaging and the police department’s aggressive implementation of the governor’s orders to restrict travel and to keep distance is resulting in higher rates of compliance,” Dwayne Warren said in an April 13 interview. “Also hitting home is the regularly scheduled information calls, wellness checks and bulletins that we have produced. Those efforts have resulted in a citizens’ brigade of neighbors and workers who reinforce our safety messages. Finally, hearing me read the numbers of those who are ill or died from the virus has a sobering effect.”
In Irvington, according to Vauss, 72 summonses were issued.
“We are committed to do what we need to do to keep our residents safe,” Vauss said in an April 13 interview. “The vast majority of our residents follow the rules, but those who don’t will need to appear in court and explain themselves and/or pay fines. COVID-19 is devastating our community, and we all need to work together to make sure we get through this as one township, one county, one state, one country and one world.”
In East Orange, according to Green, there were 551 motor vehicle stops on the Newark border and 15 motor vehicle stops on the Orange border. Additionally, seven convenience stores received verbal curfew warnings, 56 people received verbal curfew warnings and one summons was issued to a restaurant that had been given a verbal curfew warning the night before.
“Since the announcement of the joint COVID-19 lockdown, we noticed significant change in behavior, such as less people on the streets and stores promptly shutting down at 8 p.m.,” Green said in an April 9 interview. “Giving out tickets was never our goal, and, fortunately, we didn’t have to issue any to our residents. This collective effort was about educating people and making them aware of what we need to do to slow the spread of the virus in our communities.”
The mayors have also identified key next steps to strengthen enforcement efforts, which include reaching out to each of their bordering municipalities to receive input on the ongoing crisis and possibly to enact measures that will complement the lockdown already in effect in the four cities. Newark will reach out to bordering municipalities Bayonne, Belleville, East Newark, Elizabeth, Harrison, Jersey City and Kearny; Irvington will reach out to Hillside, Maplewood and Union; Orange will contact Montclair, South Orange and West Orange; and East Orange will contact Bloomfield and Glen Ridge.
Hoping residents will continue to take this threat seriously, the four mayors have vowed to continue to work together to meet one common goal, which is to combat the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 properly and flatten the curve.