By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham City Council on Friday extended the city’s current shelter-in-place ordinance to April 30, at the request of Mayor Randall Woodfin. Last month, the city approved a mandatory curfew to expire at midnight, April 3.
Nothing much changes with the extension, which is effective immediately, except that the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread, said the mayor, who made the announcement following a City Council meeting at City Hall.
The mayor also threatened to close all city parks if people continued to gather there in large groups as what was reported last weekend, he said.
“The spread of the COVID-19 here in Alabama and in our city demands that we take this very seriously,” he said. “People vulnerable to the most serious effects of the COVID-19 must remain at home unless seeking medical treatment. Each of us has a responsibility and a duty to our families, neighbors and community to do what we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”
The mandatory curfew extension puts restrictions on where residents can go outside their home. Under the order, residents can leave their home only to perform essential activities including:
- Visiting a doctor or veterinarian office
- Obtaining medical supplies or medication
- Buying groceries for themselves or others
- Providing care for minors, elderly, dependents or those with disabilities
- Returning to their home from outside the city
- Traveling to their place of residence outside the city
- Traveling to or from a place of business which provides essential services
- Engaging in legally mandated government purposes
Also effective Friday, the Park and Recreation Board has restricted city parks to solitary activities only including walking, biking and running. The ordinance currently allows residents to go to parks to exercise, but use of playgrounds and basketball courts is forbidden and those exercising must stay six feet away from one another, even if they are family or live in the same household, he said.
The order for city parks came after weekend reports of large groups hanging out in and outside of their cars at George Ward Park, Avondale Park, East Lake Park and Patton Park.
And if residents can’t abide by the rules the city parks will be closed, Woodfin said.
“Far too many times last weekend, large groups gathered at our parks and that can no longer happen,” he said. “These new restrictions are in place to protect you and give you an option to use our parks for solitary activity only . . . if people cannot police themselves, we’ll have to move to totally shut down our parks.”
Woodfin also implored people to practice social distancing at “big box” stores, where crowds of shoppers have tended to gather.
“We are at a critical time in our city’s history right now, and we want to do whatever we can to limit the spread of this virus. If people cannot practice social distancing at the parks, they should not visit the parks,’’ Woodfin said. “My message is simple. Let’s do what’s necessary to protect all the citizens in Alabama.’’
He also encouraged residents who see large gatherings in parks or stores to call the Jefferson County Department of Health (205-933-9110) or the Birmingham Police (205-328-9311).
“These orders are in place to help slow the spread and get back more quickly to our normal way of life,” he said. “Please take the order seriously and comply in these large stores and comply in our parks. If you do not, we will take the necessary steps to enforce social distancing.”
The updated ordinance and other COVID-19 information is available at www.birminghamal.gov/coronavirus.
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