Newark businesses disobeying curfew won't be eligible for grant program: mayor

Virus Outbreak New Jersey
Posted at 11:41 AM, Nov 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 22:15:10-05

NEWARK, N.J. — Newark small business owners who disobey the city's coronavirus curfew rules will not be eligible for a new program offering thousands of dollars in financial assistance, Mayor Ras Baraka has warned.

The mayor announced two new initiatives on Wednesday offering a total of $4 million in assistance to small businesses and families hit hardest by the pandemic.

The city is setting aside $2 million as part of a small business grant fund and another $2 million for a rental housing assistance fund.

Small businesses will be eligible for grants up to $25,000.

While both programs will be available citywide, Baraka said 25% of the small business grant fund will be set aside for business owners in zip codes 07104, 07105, and 07107.

“There’s going to be a concentration, a focus, on 07104, 07105, and 07107 because they were hardest hit and we closed them down earlier than we closed everybody else down,” Baraka said.

The program will also have a special focus on small businesses that are unable to conduct business outside, such as barbershops, hair salons, nail salons, spas and clothing stores.

The application period for both initiatives will begin Dec. 14.

However, Baraka also stressed that any business owners who are shut down by the city for breaking coronavirus restrictions will not have an opportunity to take advantage of the program.

“If we catch you, and you have not listened or adhered (to the rules), this does not apply to you,” he said. “If you are disobeying, then this does not apply to you.”

Newark is in the midst of a 10-day “shutdown” as New Jersey’s largest city continues to battle back against a sharp spike in coronavirus cases.

Newark's positivity rate was at about 21% on Wednesday, with the city's Ironbound section alone experiencing a positivity rate of 41%.

The stay-at-home advisory began Wednesday and will last through Dec. 4.

The mayor asked residents to only leave their home for emergencies, getting a COVID-19 test or essential reasons, such as picking up groceries.

Essential businesses like supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations and laundromats remain open, but Baraka asked they close down by 8 p.m. He also asked restaurants in the city to stop offering takeout at 8 p.m.

While the advisory is not mandatory it is strongly encouraged and will be enforced. However, Baraka also said police would not ticket people for being outside during the stay-at-home period.

PIX11's Katie Corrado and The Associate Press contributed to this report