Masks Are Back: Newark Indoor Mandate Returns As COVID Spikes

NEWARK, NJ — The masks are back, Newark.

On Monday, Mayor Ras Baraka announced that New Jersey’s largest city is bringing back its indoor face mask mandate amid a “spike in new COVID-19 cases” and the “emergence of the omicron variant.” Read the full executive order below.

The mayor’s order goes into effect immediately. Here are the details, according to a statement from City Hall:

“Under the executive order, all residents and visitors must wear a face mask at all times while indoors at any public facility in the city. Additionally, patrons must be seated while at a bar and wear masks, unless the individual is actively eating or drinking. Additional mitigation measures will be taken if the city’s test positivity rate reaches 15 percent or higher for three consecutive test periods.”

In recent weeks, the city has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, with 47,272 positive cases to date. Newark’s test positivity rate, using a three-day rolling average is 11.89 percent as of Dec. 14, officials said.

“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.

“I urge residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” the mayor continued. “Get vaccinated and tested, especially during this holiday season, as we gather and spend more time with family and friends.”

Newark city officials also “strongly advised” that all school staff and students be tested before they return to school after the holiday break.

The executive order reads:


WHEREAS, Coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) is a contagious, and at times fatal, respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus; and

WHEREAS, over one year ago, on March 9, 2020 Governor Phillip D. Murphy of the State of New Jersey (“Governor Murphy”) issued Executive Order 103, declaring a Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency due to the spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, I declared a State of Emergency in the City of Newark on March 12, 2020 after COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic; and

WHEREAS, on March 14, 2020, the City of Newark had its first confirmed case of COVID-19, and on March 18, 2020, the City had its first confirmed death of a Newark resident from COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, since March 18, 2020, I have issued approximately thirty-five (35) Executive Orders which set forth restrictions and protocols in our effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, and to provide some economic relief to Newark businesses; and

WHEREAS, although the SARS-Co V-2 virus strain, commonly referred to as the Delta Variant, is the dominant strain in the United States.; the Omicron Variant is now more contagious and therefore is more deadly and spreads more quickly throughout communities; and

WHEREAS, the number of unvaccinated individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and requiring hospitalization both in Newark and across the State continues to rise; and

WHEREAS, I am tasked with the responsibility to take whatever steps are necessary to safeguard and best ensure the health, safety and welfare of the citizens throughout the City of Newark. As of Tuesday, December 14, 2021 the City of Newark had a test positivity rate of 11.89%, and

WHEREAS, in the midst of this continuing pandemic, the increase in the Omicron Variant, and until the spread of COVID-19 is contained and/or better controlled, I find it is necessary and critical for me to institute the following policies for the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens throughout the City of Newark.


  • All City residents and visitors must wear a mask at all times while indoors at any public facility in the City of Newark.

  • All patrons must be seated while at a bar within the City of Newark, and must be masked unless actively eating or drinking.

I will continue to monitor the progression of the virus and reserve the right to take additional mitigation measures, if the City’s test positivity rate reaches 15% or higher for three (3) consecutive test periods.

This Executive Order shall take effect Monday, December 20, 2021 and supersedes all inconsistent Executive Orders.

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This article originally appeared on the Newark Patch