Hoboken Launches Open Street Program On Jefferson Street To Expand Outdoor Space For Businesses

While the latest COVID-19 update from the Hoboken Health Department shows an additional 16 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Mile Square City, no new deaths have been reported as of Wednesday night.  Mayor Ravi Bhalla does say the city is working on a couple of ideas to help local businesses once the state says it is OK to resume normal activities.  Meanwhile, the Mayor announced a pilot program for Jefferson Street which will give residents more space to social distance.

Here is the latest update:

Impact of COVID-19 in Hoboken

Yesterday, the Hoboken Health Department reported an additional 16 confirmed COVID-19 cases, for a total of 525 known cases. This total includes the five positive cases from last week’s door-to-door testing in a senior building, that were officially processed for today. No fatalities were reported, for a total of 23 in Hoboken.

Riverside Medical hits 1,000 COVID-19 tests

Dr. Brahmbhatt and his team at Riverside Medical reached a milestone of testing over 1,000 Hoboken residents for COVID-19. I thank him and his staff for continuing this service for our residents. As of yesterday, 1,010 residents were tested with 181 positive and 817 negative results. This does not include all of the tests conducted on Hoboken residents, as we are not provided with the total tests from outside of Riverside, only with the positive results which we regularly report.

Testing continues for all symptomatic and non-symptomatic residents and frontline workers in Hoboken, please call 201-420-5621 to arrange a test with the Community Emergency Response Team at City Hall.

Expanding outdoor space for local businesses

While we continue to deal with the day to day of adapting to COVID-19 and keeping our residents safe, we have been planning for the eventual time when it’s safe for our businesses to open, as determined by the State. To this end, my administration has been working for the past week on proposals to close certain streets to provide businesses with additional outdoor table space, along with an expansion of sidewalk cafes. Allowing businesses to expand capacity outdoors and also into the street, due to the anticipated reduction in capacity indoors, will help keep our businesses afloat and I thank Council President Jen Giattino and the Hoboken Business Alliance for working with us on this idea. Thank you also to the several business owners who have provided valuable input on this to my staff.

While closing certain streets for tables and chairs may seem like a radical idea, the reality is our streets provide a practical way to capitalize on added space in close proximity to the respective businesses. As a reference point, our Arts and Music Festival closes half of Washington Street for almost an entire day, which provides us with some ideas on how to move forward with this plan. More on this and additional business initiatives will be provided in the coming days and weeks.

Open street pilot program on Jefferson Street this weekend

We are launching an “open street” pilot program on Jefferson Street this weekend between 3rd and 11th Streets to help create more space to promote social distancing. This space will be closed to vehicular traffic on Saturday and Sunday from 8 am until 8 pm, to provide pedestrians and cyclists room and alleviate potential overcrowding in other public spaces. While we continue to advocate for residents to stay at home whenever practically possible, I recognize the mental health benefits of fresh air and outdoor space, and I’m confident this space will promote responsible outdoor activity. If this pilot is successful, we can repeat or expand it in the future.

The Hoboken Police Department will be dedicating five Traffic Control Officers (TCOs) to Jefferson Street, to assist residents who need to access their vehicles or enter their garages. Residents do not need to move their cars if they are parked on Jefferson Street.

Some have asked why we did not close Sinatra Drive to vehicular traffic, which is a very valid question. The answer is that we saw last weekend a higher than usual volume of traffic and we did not want to make our waterfront even more of a destination for those who don’t live in Hoboken. While I am 100% in favor of opening up Sinatra Drive during normal spring and summer days, as we did last year for the first time in years with “Sinatra Summer Streets”, I want to take extra precautions to ensure Sinatra Drive does not become a destination for non-residents and result in additional overcrowding.

Additional senior testing

Dr. Javed Islam and his staff from Prompt MD went door to door to an additional senior building in the Hoboken Housing Authority today at Monroe Gardens and tested 79 seniors for COVID-19. We appreciate his staff accommodating our most vulnerable population. This initiative is a part of our ongoing efforts to make sure that our senior population is protected and safe.

Antibody testing

My staff has been working hard to open up an antibody site in Hoboken, and we anticipate having an update on this by the end of the week.

Thank you, Hoboken.

Sincerely,

Ravi S. Bhalla
Mayor