Mayor Andre Sayegh declared a state of emergency on Monday morning after the city saw its first two cases of the new coronavirus. His emergency order imposes a 6 p.m. closure time on businesses – bars, nightclubs, liquor stores, movie theaters, shopping malls, gyms, barbershops, salons, factories, and non-urgent medical offices like dental, physical therapy clinic, chiropractor offices – beginning today.
Sayegh’s order also forbids congregational services at houses of worships. Restaurants may remain open only for takeout, delivery, and drive-through services.
“We have to take very, very drastic measures,” said Sayegh. “We have to protect Patersonians.”
Sayegh urged people to stay home during the coronavirus crisis. He said residents should not gather in bars and other places during St. Patrick’s Day.
Grocery stores, supermarkets, and bodegas are allowed to remain open under the state of emergency, according to the mayor’s executive order.
“It’s going to be a disaster,” said Jamie Dykes of the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce. He said small businesses in the city will suffer due to the closures. He is waiting to see what sorts of relief will be provided to small businesses from state and federal governments.
Sayegh declared the state of emergency during a news conference in which he revealed a couple were tested positive for Covid-19. The couple and their two children are isolated in their home, said officials.
Health officials are monitoring the family and conducting contact tracing to identify people who may have come in contact with them.
Sayegh said the emergency measures will be in place for the next two weeks. Last week, the mayor reduced hours at City Hall. He also allowed hundreds of municipal employees to work from home during the crisis.
Paterson Municipal Court sessions have been suspended from Mar. 16 through Mar. 27, according to the mayor. All library branches are closed to the public, he said. Playgrounds and fields throughout the city have been closed.
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Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated court sessions were suspended until Apr. 27. Court sessions are suspended from Mar. 16 through Mar. 27, 2020.