Mayor Sandy Stimpson said Tuesday his administration does not plan to renew a citywide nightly curfew implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic after it expires later this week.
The decision to allow the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew to expire comes after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced plans to roll back a statewide “stay at home” order and once again allow retail businesses as well as private and public beaches to reopen on Thursday, April 30.
The curfew, which has been in effect since April 4 and has led to 80 violators receiving citations, was originally scheduled to end at midnight on April 30. With little fanfare, Stimpson said that’s still on schedule to happen Thursday and his office has no plans to extend or reinstate the curfew at this time.
He was asked for his thoughts about Ivey’s plan to reopen parts of the state’s economy during a joint press conference with Mobile County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood and Mobile County Health Officer Bernard Eichold Tuesday, but Stimpson told reporters his opinion on the decision didn’t matter.
“There are as many opinions as there are people, and what we’re going to do is follow the governor’s lead,” Stimpson said. “I don’t think that everybody is satisfied with it, but I do know this, and that’s that she is genuinely concerned with protecting your health just as the three of us are.”
Stimpson did say he hoped Ivey’s latest order would have provided more guidance for “close contact businesses” like barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlors that are required to remain closed until at least May 15.
After meeting with local business owners in those industries last week, Stimpson said he shared protocols and other recommendations with Ivey’s office for how they might be reopened safely.
While he expressed concern about the financial impact of keeping those businesses closed, Stimpson also made it clear the city would be enforcing the state’s new health order against any reported violators.
“We followed through on that to the best we knew how to try and represent them, but we will respect the governor’s order,” he said. “It would be our hope that she would address that as soon as she can.”
Even Eichold, who has supported broader restrictions than other public officials in the past, expressed concern about the businesses left out Tuesday’s first step toward reopening. While he respects Ivey’s decision, Eichold said it was “a little bit more restrictive than we would have liked to have seen.”
As for general enforcement of the new health order, Stimpson said officers from the Mobile Police Department would continue enforcing restrictions of non-work related gatherings of 10 or more people even after the city curfew has expired.
However, he also said there would need to be an element of personal responsibility and “self-policing” among businesses as more are allowed to reopen.
“My hope is that we won’t have to enforce some of this for small businesses because we don’t have enough officers to go check everybody to make sure they’re going by the things outlined in the order,” Stimpson said. “But, I think they recognize they’ve got a responsibility to take care of themselves and their customers. If someone walks in and no one is paying attention to the number of people in a store or the social distancing, my guess is some of those customers won’t be coming back.”
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