‘If You Want To Put Money Over Somebody’s Life, Then Shame On You’: Bergen’s Tedesco Announces Additional Restrictions

Bergen County's Tedesco

Update: Tedesco rescinded the executive order after consultation with the Governor’s Office.

Updated 3/17 830am: Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco today announced that the implementation of Executive Order 2020-1B will be postponed until Saturday at 8 a.m. in order to provide additional clarity and to be in conjunction with state government.

“If anyone wants to challenge my decisions, that is their right,” he said.  But he was firm in his convictions that he was acting to defend the public health and save lives.

Bergen County Executive James Tedesco’s voice was noticeably fraught with the stress and emotion of the burden of his command when he delivered Executive Order 2020-01B, a further, more restrictive amendment on public and private activity in the county of Bergen.

“These decisions are not made easily, but I don’t want to be reading names off a paper of people who are no longer with us,” he said.  “There are many people in the hospital right now in critical condition because of this virus.  If we don’t stop the spread of the virus more people will be in the hospital.  They say the young can survive this, the young can fight through this, my question is, why should the young even get it?  I don’t want my granddaughters or grandsons to get it.  The history says they will fight through it.  Today we were notified that a 3 year old is the youngest person to test positive.  That young child is going to have that for the rest of their life.  People with ideas to help us stop this spread, please let me know.  Yesterday, many of you were at the press conference I was at, the chief medical officer said you’re not going to stop this, you can slow it down.  It’s going to take a lot to slow it down, you better be prepared for three or four months.  I’m asking you to help me slow this down.  So, maybe it’s not three or four months, maybe it’s shorter, but I need all your help.  We’re in this together, we’ll get through this together.  Let’s stay together.”

11:00 p.m. tomorrow night, the executive order is in effect until the executive says otherwise.  “I’m going to hope the attorney general will agree,” he said Bergen county law enforcement will persuade businesses to remain closed.

“It’s about trying to get people to understand they shouldn’t be out,” Tedesco.  “Law enforcement doesn’t want people congregating in large groups.  We don’t want the young people out there, 30 or 40 of them, that’s where the spread comes from.  We’re trying to put logical steps in place so that it helps those people understand why we don’t want them to do that, and helps law enforcement.”

When questioned on enforcement, Tedesco said that police would be used, but “it’s about social conscience.  This is about people understanding how they should help their neighbor.  If you want to put money over somebody’s life, then shame on you.”

From the County:

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco today amended the Executive Order he issued last week declaring a State of Emergency in Bergen County to include the temporary closure of shopping centers, offices and other facilities.  County parks shall remain open only for passive recreation in groups no bigger than four individuals.

Executive 2020-01B


THEREFORE, I JAMES J. TEDESCO, III as the County Executive for the County of Bergen, do hereby order and direct that:


1)All of the restrictions contained in prior Executive Orders issued in an effort to combat the COVID-19 virus are hereby incorporated herein by reference and shall continue in full force and effect except as specifically modified by the provisions of the within Executive Order.


2)No worldly employment or business shall be performed or practiced by any person or entity within the County of Bergen until further notice except as expressly permitted herein.


3)This Order shall not be construed to prohibit the following activities:


a.preparation and sale of drugs, meals, prepared food;


b.take-out sale of alcoholic beverages, newspapers, pet food and sanitary pet products, gasoline and food productssubject to the conditions and limitations contained herein.


c.Auto repair shops will be permitted to remain open only if attached to and part of a gasoline station;


d.Health care facilities shall remain open with the exception of dental care facilities which shall close except as may be deemed necessary by a licensed dentist to treat emergency conditions;


e.Law firms, other entities or individuals specifically licensed to provide professional legal services, are hereby exempted from this Executive Order to the degree necessary to participate in Superior Court trials or other ancillary court proceedings or emergent matters or transactions;


f.Banks or banking institutions;


g.Funeral Parlors.


All exempted activities are required to otherwise comply with any and all provisions of any existing Executive Orders, laws or other regulations and CDC guidelines, including but not limited to those concerning social distancing.


4)All malls, shopping centers, offices, construction and business activity of any type or nature, except as modified herein, shall be closed until further notice.


5)Restaurants within malls or shopping centers may remain open only for the sale of take-out orders or delivery.


6)Stores selling alcoholic beverages for outside consumption may remain open but shall comply with previously announced limitations and guidelines applicable to restaurants and CDC “social distancing” and other applicable guidelines.


7)All health clubs, gyms, dance class facilities, yoga class facilities and all other similar recreational facilities shall be closed until further notice.


8)I ask any health care professionals including, but not limited to, physicians, physicians’ assistants, nurses, dentists and other professionals to volunteer to provide health care services to combat the COVID-19 health care emergency.


9)Bergen County shall cease issuing road opening permits except in cases of emergency.


10)All utility roadwork is hereby suspended until further notice, unless necessary for emergency purposes or required to maintain the provision of the utility service.


11)I recommend that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities develop a plan to address the health and safety of all utility workers. No utility meter readings that require entry into any building shall take place until further notice. Operation centers for public utilities are permitted to remain open.


12)No roadway solicitations seeking charitable contributions whether previously authorized by the County or otherwise shall take place until further notice.


13)Food establishments or retail establishments that primarily sell food, either fresh or preserved, including but not limited to grocery stores and supermarkets and similar establishments, and the portion of establishments that engage in this activity shall be permitted to remain open between the hours of 7a.m.to 11p.m.


Food establishments shall be restricted to the sale of food and health care products, and shall prohibit the purchase of any other items. Larger food establishments and supermarkets shall limit the number of patrons within a store to fifty (50) at any one time. Smaller store that are not capable of servicing fifty (50) patrons shall impose an appropriate customer limit to comply with CDC social distancing guidelines. Individual municipalities shall be responsible for the enforcement of the limitations contained in the within paragraph.


14)Parks shall remain open for passive recreation, however, no organized or directed activity shall be permitted. Any other park activities that bring groups of more than four individuals (other than family members) shall be prohibited, such as playgrounds, dog runs, rides, stables (except for the care and maintenance of horses at the stables) or games.


15)Golf courses may remain open for golfers who walk the courses only. All other facilities within private or public golf courses such as clubhouses, restaurants, health facilities, lesson facilities, etc. shall be closed. No public outings shall be permitted until further notice.


16)No groups of more than four people, other than family members, shall assemble in public at any time within the County until further notice. A curfew is also imposed within the County between the hours of 8:00 P.M. and 7:00 A.M. for all public outdoor activities.


17)Questions with respect to the provisions of the within Executive Order may be presented by email to the County at EOquestions@co.bergen.nj.us, or by calling the County during normal business hours at (201)785-8500.


18)This Order shall take effect March 17, 2020, at 11 p.m.,and shall remain in effect until modified. This Order may be amended or supplemented in the event further action is required to combat the COVID-19 virus


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