Newark orders indoor masks at public places as cases rise

December 20, 2021 GMT

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s largest city is requiring that masks be worn in all public indoor spaces as coronavirus cases rise.

Mayor Ras Baraka issued an executive order Monday effective immediately that requires residents and visitors to the city to be masked when in public buildings. It also requires bar patrons to be seated and to wear a mask except when in the act of eating or drinking.

Newark’s number of positive cases has risen in recent weeks, and the city’s test positivity rate is now 11.89 percent based on a three-day rolling average. That parallels rising numbers statewide as the omicron variant has begun to spread.

“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.

Baraka said more measures could be ordered if the city’s positivity rate reaches 15% or higher for more than three consecutive testing periods. He also urged school staff and students to be tested before they return to school after the holiday break.