By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The City of Birmingham on Thursday approved a new curfew ordinance between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. which took effect Thursday evening and lasts through May 15.
The City Council approved the ordinance as the city’s current stay-at-home order was set to expire Thursday night.
“I want to thank the City Council for continuing to work with me to do what is in the best interest of the citizens of Birmingham,” said Woodfin.
The city had three options regarding its current shelter-in-place order: extend the current order, let it expire or modify it.
“We wanted to take into account all retail stores being open and since most close at 9 or 10 we decided . . . to modify the current stay at home order to a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Woodfin.
The city’s order does not apply to first responders, utilities contractors/employees, those seeking essential services such as groceries or medicine, federal, state, county or city employees.
The curfew will not affect anyone’s ability to report to work at businesses that are permitted to remain open, utilize curbside pickup for restaurant, grocery stores or go to medical appointments.
The new curfew ordinance supports the face covering measure passed earlier this week which goes into effect at one minute after midnight May 1, he said.
“It is important to remember the risk of this pandemic still remains with us. We have to realize if you walk out of your home we have to protect not only the person next to you but the employees going back to work,” the mayor said. “We have to feel comfortable knowing that community spread can still happen and face coverings help us to prevent or slow that community spread.”
Both ordinances are needed because the city has yet to meet the criteria set by federal officials to open up its economy. Numbers need to be low or no new cases in terms of symptoms, cases, how many people are or have been hospitalized, how many people are being tested or have been tested and how well that information is being tracked. Currently, the city of Birmingham only meets one of the criteria of hospitalization.
Both the face mask and curfew ordinances will be strictly enforced, Woodfin said.
“This is not about arresting people or putting people in jail, this is making sure people comply,” he said.
Failure to comply with the face covering ordinance and violation of curfew are both punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in the municipal jail.
The new curfew and face covering ordinances are set to expire May 15.
To view the proposed ordinances or for more updates from the city on COVID-19, visit www.birminghamal.gov/coronavirus.