Calling the last weekend a “warning period,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said his office and the Mobile City Council would work to empower police officers to write tickets for violations of his newly implemented curfew, which went into effect Saturday at 10 p.m.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Stimpson said his office has engaged the council on the issue to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19 and expects that by Tuesday evening, residents out and about from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. without a valid reason could be ticketed.
“If you’re riding around after 10 p.m. you better have (identification) to prove that you need to be out, or you’re going to get a ticket,” he said. “If you’re given a ticket, you’ll have two options: you can pay it, or go to court. If you choose to go to court it’ll cost way more than the fine.”
Under the curfew there are a number of exceptions including: public safety workers, healthcare workers, utilities workers, telecommunications workers, internet company employees and contractors; government employees and their contractors, credentialed media, those traveling home or to the city from outside it and those experiencing homelessness.
The city, as well as the state, has implemented a “stay-at-home” order for now, which is a bit more relaxed than the curfew and allows residents to go to essential jobs, meet in groups of 10 or fewer and perform essential activities, like pick up takeout, shop for groceries and exercise.
For more on the mayor’s stay-at-home order, click here For more on Gov. Kay Ivey’s order click here. A list of frequently asked questions about the city’s curfew and stay-at-home order can be found here
The council is expected to vote at its regular meeting Tuesday on ordinances that would adopt the state’s stay-at-home order and the one issued by Stimpson’s office late last week that includes the nightly “safety curfew” that will run from 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. through April 30.
A third item is also expected to be considered by the council giving police the authority to issue citations to citizens who do not voluntarily comply with officers’ request to disband if they are found to be out without a legitimate reason after the curfew takes effect.
A spokesperson with the Mobile Police Department told Lagniappe Monday that officers responded to 10 calls over the weekend for violations of the newly-implemented nightly curfew. All of those police contacted disbanded voluntarily after a verbal warning.
Also on Monday, Stimpson strengthened his previous order regulating shopping at big-box grocery stores and retailers, which will now limit those establishments — including Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco and others to just 20 percent of the building’s fire capacity. For now, Stimpson said grocery stores like Publix, Greer’s and Winn-Dixie can continue to operate at 40 percent capacity.
Speaking to reporters, Stimpson said he made the decision to take further action on the store capacity issue after meeting with retail managers and hearing from the public. Overall, however, he said he was pleased with how everyone seems to be adjusting to the new regulations.
“I really believe all our stores — grocery stores and big boxes — are doing everything they have to do to make sure you stay safe and healthy,” he said. “I am tremendously grateful for that.”
Executive Director James Barber said a total of 37 first responders have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, out of more than 900 that have been screened using rapid serum blood tests given. A total of 13 Mobile firefighters and 24 police officers tested positive for antibodies.
The presence of antibodies only means that a patient’s body has started mounting a defense to the virus, or has recently fought it off. Of those positive tests, three firefighters tested negative on a nasal swab test that shows active infection. Those firefighters have returned to service.
One firefighter tested positive for infection, but was asymptomatic. He has been quarantined, Barber said. The city has yet to receive results for the other 10 tests. In all, six police officers have tested negative and have returned to work. Two officers have tested positive and presented with symptoms, Barber said.
The city is awaiting results on the other 16 tests.
As of 4:19 p.m., Mobile County has 143 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six reported deaths. Only five of those deaths have been confirmed to have been caused by the virus, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Baldwin County has a total of 38 cases and one confirmed death.
The COVID-19 testing site at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, which is manned by USA University Hospital, has begun taking public appointments, and according to Barber, those appointments will begin Tuesday.
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