TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey's biggest city has instituted an 8 p.m. curfew in response to the coronavirus.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement that the curfew would be mandatory unless there's an emergency or a person is going to or coming from work. He said essential stores like supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations could stay open beyond 8 p.m.
The curfew is set to go into effect Wednesday and will be re-evaluated on April 1, the mayor said.
Already, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the closing of schools, gyms, theaters, amusement parks, indoors malls and casinos. Nonessential businesses are also closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily statewide, and the governor has urged people not to travel if they don't have to.
“We've basically shut the state down,” Murphy said Thursday in a radio interview. “Stay home.”
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The vast majority of people recover over a period a weeks.
The mayor said businesses that have to comply with the curfew include retail stores, nail salons, beauty salons and barber shops. But laundromats, hotels, banks, auto mechanics and cell phone retail stores are exempt, he said.
A look at other developments:
Murphy said in a radio interview on Thursday that a drive-through testing would begin in Bergen County on Friday at Bergen Community College. Bergen County has been the state's hardest-hit area.
He said that the testing would be mostly for health care workers, and that people without symptoms should not try to get tested.
Another testing center would be opening soon in Holmdel, Monmouth County, he said..
What to do
State health officials have recommended calling your health care provider if you have symptoms, including fever and shortness of breath. Officials also point people to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, which recommends people stay home except to get medical care.
On Wednesday, the state announced a new number residents can call with coronavirus-related questions, to augment the existing hotline operated by the New Jersey Poison Control Center.
The new 211 number is operated by the United Ways of New Jersey and provides information and referral services. Residents also can text NJCOVID to 898-211.