By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
With coronavirus cases continuing to rise in Montclair and the region, some businesses are temporarily closing their doors or taking other precautions.
Cafe MoSo, located at 307 Orange Road and Mosoria Pizza, both on Orange Road, have each announced they’ll be closed from Dec. 20 until Jan. 4 due to coronavirus cases among staff.
“We decided to close both restaurants because of the impact that the COVID omicron variant is having so quickly on people. And we just didn’t want to take the chance,” Zina Floyd, owner of Cafe MoSo and co-owner of Mosoria Pizza, said.
Floyd said a few of her employees, as well as her and her husband, have tested positive, with some being asymptomatic and others showing some symptoms. Floyd said in order to keep her staff and her customers safe, she decided it was best to close both restaurants.
“We just thought it was best to lower the risk and see what direction the township and Gov. [Phill] Murphy decides to do moving forward and make the decisions from there,” Floyd said. “But we do plan on opening up on Jan. 4 as planned.”
Floyd also said she is working with a sanitation company to completely sanitize both restaurants before the reopening date.
Masks will also be required for both restaurants, unless a customer is actively eating or drinking, but the restaurant won’t require proof of vaccination, Floyd said. Under a township resolution passed Dec. 21, masks are required in nearly all Montclair indoor public spaces — such as restaurants, shops and entertainment venues — for 30 days. Officials say they’ll revisit the mandate after then, hopeful a decline in cases, more access to vaccines and boosters for young people and other factors might render it unnecessary.
The General Store at Cornerstore Montclair also announced a closure for the remainder of the year on its Instagram page.
"Our disappointment is profound," the post reads." We love working with our customers to spread holiday cheer to their loved ones. However, the increased exposure to COVID amongst friends, family and staff, have forces us to focus on safety first."
A few days earlier, the General Store posted that one of its staff members was exposed to someone with coronavirus. Because of that and a staff shortage, the store was open on only a limited basis at the time.
Paul Giordano, president of Uptown Montclair, said as of Thursday, The General Store was the only store he knew of in Upper Montclair to have closed temporarily due to a COVID exposure.
At the Montclair Center Business Improvement District, executive director Jason Gleason said he hadn't heard of business closing either. But the BID was helping inform its members about the new mask requirement.
"We have sent out letter to all businesses about the new ordinance," Gleason said. "We are also providing some boxes of masks to some businesses so they don't turn down any customers."
Gleason said Montclair Center BID ambassadors are meeting with businesses, handing out flyers the township provided, asking customers, and staff to mask up. The flyers can be downloaded for printing here and here.
He said the final weeks of the holiday season are important to businesses, still making up for losses suffered last year.
The township, like all of the region, has seen a steep increase in coronavirus cases in the last few weeks, likely driven at least in part by the arrival of the omicron variant of the virus.
Recent weeks have seen dozens of new cases a day — 123 on Thursday alone. By contrast, as recently as early November, new daily cases were in the low-single-digit range. Montclair High School also had two days of remote instruction this week because of spiking cases, the first time the district has sent entire grades home for remote instruction this school year.