With 61 COVID-19 cases in Hoboken, possibility that portions of waterfront could close

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With 61 coronavirus cases in Hoboken, there is now a possibility that portions of the waterfront could close if people continue to congregate without social distancing, Mayor Ravi Bhalla said.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The Hoboken Health Department reported to me that there were five new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Hoboken today, with a total of 61 overall,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement last night.

” … I know the waterfront is a large part of what makes Hoboken special, but we need to spread out. Unfortunately, if congregating on our waterfront without social distancing continues to occur, there may be no choice but to close portions of our waterfront. I don’t want to take this measure, as other waterfront cities with boardwalks have done, but we may have no other option.”

Bhalla stressed that thinking and acting for the greater good is a necessity during this time, again reiterating to stay indoors as much as possible – a message that has been consistent since the city implemented their “self-isolation” order on March 17th.

While the mayor didn’t address them directly, his remarks come after the Fund for a Better Waterfront started a change.org petition asking for the city to close Sinatra Drive to cars so that people can still exercise outdoors while social distancing.

“Hoboken has closed Sinatra Drive in the summer for recreation and for festivals. With the Stay-at-Home order and the suspension of street cleaning, there has been a dramatic reduction in car traffic,” the petition says.

“If Sinatra Drive does need to be used to respond to an emergency, it is easy to move a barricade or cones to the side.”

As of 2 p.m., the website had obtained 507 signatures and many had allowed their name to be displayed publicly, also providing a brief explanation why they were supporting the cause.

“Temporarily closing Sinatra Drive during the time we are practicing social distancing will help us stay active and healthy while keeping the virus at bay!,” wrote Carrow Thibault.

“I’m signing because I believe we as a community can find ways to SAFELY engage in healthy outdoor activity during the coronavirus pandemic,” added Emmanuelle Morgen.

Furthermore, FBW Executive Director Ron Hine said that the organization’s suggestion is consistent with U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines and would not be a difficult policy to implement.

“The CDC recognizes that fresh air & exercise are vital to good mental health & ability to manage stress, thus making communities more resilient to the coronavirus crisis. Closing Sinatra Drive to traffic will alleviate crowding at Hoboken’s popular waterfront park,” he told HCV.

“This is not a difficult decision to make. The City of New York is closing some streets to allow for social distancing and we can as well.”

Nevertheless, it seems like it’s going to take a lot more than that to convince City Hall.

“We’ve observed a good job of social distancing in our parks, but not so much on our waterfront. As I said on social media earlier today, congregating without social distancing is strictly prohibited, without exception. Doing so puts not only you at risk, but also your family, friends, and the rest of the entire City,” the mayor said in his daily city update yesterday.

“Over the weekend, the Hoboken Police Department will be out in our waterfront areas to enforce the social distancing rules (with the exception of family members and others residing in the same household).”