Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco on Monday evening announced that he was ordering the closure of his county’s iconic malls and other businesses in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19, a step that exceeds the executive order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy earlier in the day.
The order also seeks to shut down most offices within the county — which has had the most cases of infection with the novel coronavirus in the state, at 61 — with exceptions that include banks and law firms. It also bans all construction activity, as well any gatherings of more than four people in a public place, other than family members.
Mall restaurants remain open for takeout or delivery orders only.
Big box stores like Costco would be asked to adhere to rules similar to the county’s infamous blue laws that restricting Sunday sales, allowing sales of food items but not televisions and other non-essential items.
County government remains open under the order, but not to the public. County parks remain open, but only for passive use, and golf courses are open only to those who walk the course.
Tedesco said that with plans to open drive-thru FEMA virus testing sites later in the week at EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 2020-1B final College, he’s looking for retirees and others to volunteer to help out at the facility.
At a press conference announcing the steps, Tedesco says he’s been threatened with lawsuits because of how far his order goes but he repeatedly said this is about protecting those who live, work and visit Bergen County.
The order is effective Tuesday, at 11 p.m.