‘We saw what was happening and needed to be proactive.’ Hoboken mayor says he has no regrets about COVID restrictions

Hoboken was at the forefront of keeping people safe at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first city to shut down bars and restaurants as cases of the virus spiked.

News 12 Staff

Mar 16, 2021, 3:29 AM

Updated 1,222 days ago

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Hoboken was at the forefront of keeping people safe at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first city to shut down bars and restaurants as cases of the virus spiked.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla says that he had no regrets for the moves the city made. He says that many lives were saved.
But with more people getting vaccinated against the virus, and with many small businesses still struggling, many Hoboken residents want to know what are the next steps.
"We saw what was happening around world and state and country, and felt we needed to be proactive and take decisive action on the front end and made the decision to shut bars and restaurants,” Bhalla says.
Bhalla says that despite the struggles many have faced since the shutdown, he would still make the same decision today. It set the tone for the city and led the way for the rest of the state early on.
“Every decision we made as a city was guided by protecting the public, keeping residents safe and saving lives,” he says.
The mayor applauds the resilience of the community – the business owners, the residents and the volunteers.
A food pantry was organized early in the pandemic. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has been manning a call center all year to help primarily the older population sign up for testing and now vaccines.
“None of us knew everything about what’s going on and people calling are often panicky and we can offer a little bit of reassuring and give them direct information,” says CERT captain John Dalton.
Looking ahead, Bhalla promises more aid to struggling families and struggling businesses. The city was already among the first to enhance outdoor dining ordinances and there are now plans to send some of the city’s $27 million in federal relief money to help more.
“We’ll be looking to support small businesses through another round of funding, to help tenants who can’t pay rent and to help nonprofits,” Bhalla says.
The mayor is also reminding residents that despite the progress, the threat of the virus is still out there. And he also wants everyone to continue supporting local businesses.


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