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City Councilor Hunter Williams: Face Mask Ordinance May be Too Much

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Councilor Hunter Williams
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

At Tuesday’s Birmingham City Council meeting, the members voted 7-1 to extend the face covering ordinance with Councilor Hunter Williams voting against and Councilor Steven Hoyt not present.

While Williams said he believes face coverings are effective he was concerned about government overreach, he said.

The face covering ordinance was extended to May 22 and had been previously set to expire on May 15 at midnight.

“I do wish that we would have an education approach to this where we’re doing PSA’s (public service announcements) and trying to educate the public about the importance of wearing a face mask,” Williams said, “ . . . I think we should be leaning more toward that rather than an ordinance or law enforcement approach.”

Anyone found not wearing a face mask or covering within Birmingham city limits face a $500 fine or 30 days in the municipal jail.

Councilor John Hilliard said education is important “but I think all means are important to save lives . . .  the numbers are not going to go down [if preventative steps are not taken], they are going to go up and if a face mask will help we should continue to push that by law and by any fines.

“We know in the black community numbers are going to go up and . . . I say we stick with the masks and education and fines and we do whatever we have to do to alert and alarm our communities,” he added.

In another matter, the Council delayed a request by Mayor Randall Woodfin to bring the Morehouse-Tuskegee Football Classic to Legion Field in October.

The mayor’s proposal would set the next two annual football games between the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at Legion Field, with the option to renew the contract for three additional years. The city, in return, would allocate up to $500,000 toward putting on the event, including $50,000 to each college. Each school would also get 10 percent of ticket sales, and the city’s general fund would receive the remaining 80 percent, Woodfin said.

He said the event would bring an estimated 150,000 people to Legion Field, 75,000 inside the stadium and 75,000 tailgating outside.

However, Council President William Parker said there were still a number of questions and a majority of the members sent the item to the committee of the whole for more discussion, with the item scheduled to reappear on May 26 agenda.