Home COVID-19 Hoboken to Enforce $1,000 Fine for Indoor Gatherings of Over 25

Hoboken to Enforce $1,000 Fine for Indoor Gatherings of Over 25

by Jennifer Tripucka
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Hoboken has approved a new mandate that will fine residents and homeowners $1,000 for indoor gatherings of over 25 people that are also violating other ordinances due to COVID, according to City Hall. The ordinance was unanimously passed at first reading by Hoboken’s City Council and unanimously approved at Wednesday night’s second reading.

Health officials in Hoboken credit the recent spike in local COVID cases to both small and large indoor gatherings, along with travel out of state to hot spots.

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As of October 29th

On Thursday, October 29th, the City Council was unable to vote on an ordinance imposing up to a $1,000 fine on certain indoor gatherings above 25 people, due to the Council’s lack of a quorum. According to the press release, four of the nine City Councilmembers logged on to the virtual meeting for the special council meeting, however, five are needed to hold an official vote on City matters.

Mayor Bhalla stated in his press release, “On a day where Hoboken saw its highest amount of COVID-19 cases in one day since April, it’s unfortunate that the majority of the City Council did not vote on this important ordinance designed to help prevent the spread of the virus. Indoor gatherings are proven to be the main reason why COVID-19 is continuing to rise in Hoboken, and this measure is solely designed to protect public health and prevent super-spreader events. The ordinance under consideration is even more urgent now than ever before given the alarming increase in cases in Hoboken. I thank Council President Jen Giattino and Councilmembers Jabbour, Cohen, and Doyle for attempting to hold tonight’s meeting.”

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher noted in her newsletter to constituents, “The mayor had scheduled a special Council meeting for this past Thursday at 6pm to vote on this, but the time didn’t work for most of the Council and there was no flexibility given to change to a better time so the meeting had no quorum.  I had let the city know immediately on Tuesday that I could not make 6, but said I could make 7.  The response I received was they were scheduling it for 6 (which must have worked better for the media who were invited to cover the event). I expect the ordinance to easily pass next week.”

As of October 24th

A press release by the City of Hoboken and Mayor Bhalla stated, “The Hoboken Police Department has responded to several house parties over the past few weekends, some of which were identified by the Health Department as contributing to clusters of cases. To that end, my administration has introduced to the City Council a new ordinance that provides fines of up to $1,000 for large, indoor gatherings above 25 people that are also violating other ordinances in the City including a disorderly house, noise, or disturbing the peace.”

The City of Hoboken sent a follow-up to note, “The ordinance is in line and consistent with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order which mandates that indoor gatherings (with certain exceptions, including religious gatherings) be limited to 25 people or less.”

What This Means

The new ordinance means that both tenants and property owners will be assessed the fine if determined to be applicable by the Hoboken Police Department.

“This ordinance,” according to Mayor Bhalla, “which is fully supported by Police Chief Ken Ferrante, is meant to address a substantial health and safety issue of unruly house parties as it relates to COVID-19 spread, as opposed to peaceful get-togethers, although we strongly discourage gatherings of any type as well beyond household members. I thank the Hoboken City Council for unanimously adopting this ordinance on first reading, and am confident that it will also have unanimous support on second and final reading.”

Read More: The States That NJ Requires a 14-Day Travel Quarantine 

The Fine

While upon first glance it appears that any gatherings over 25 would be included in the ordinance — it appears that it is more meant to address “unruly house parties,” according to City Hall, “although {they} strongly discourage gatherings of any type as well as beyond household members.” Fines would be up to $1,000.

COVID-19 in NJ by the Numbers

According to The New York Times, at least 20 new coronavirus deaths and 2,443 new cases were reported in New Jersey on November 4th. Over the past week, there has been an average of 1,752 cases per day, an increase of 70 percent from the average two weeks earlier. As of Thursday afternoon, there have been at least 249,019 cases and 16,403 deaths in New Jersey since the beginning of the pandemic.

In Hoboken and Jersey City according to the numbers, cases have seen a slight uptick — with 21 new Hoboken cases reported on October 31st and 60 new Jersey City cases reported on November 4th.

You can follow our Daily Coronavirus Tracker here.

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