Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson has imposed a “stay-at-home” order and a curfew for residents of the city and its police jurisdiction. The order goes into effect Saturday, April 4 at 10 p.m.
“This order must not be taken lightly,” Stimpson said. “This coronavirus has affected many of our citizens and has taken the lives of four in our county. Every time you turn on the TV you’re hearing ‘stay at home.’ This is to amplify that for our citizens. It’s just another step we’ve taken in this quest to make sure that we keep you safe.”
For the past week, Simpsons has maintained he didn’t think the time was right for Mobile to issue a “stay at home” order despite other states and cities around the country doing so. In a press conference Friday, he said he changed his view after an 8 a.m. meeting with city staff, hospital administrators and members of the Mobile County Health Department.
“As the conversation continued over a period of almost an hour, just the information that was being downloaded, it became apparent that now is the time to pull the trigger,” he said. “This week included 39 runs for our paramedics to go to answer calls of people who were symptomatic of having breathing, respiratory problems at their homes. Every time that happens our [first responders] have to put on their full gear. So that has been a spike in that.”
To put the 39 “infectious disease” calls in perspective, paramedics only responded to two such calls during the entire month of February, according to Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber confirmed. Addressing reporters Friday, Barber called the increase “astronomical.”
Currently, the city is working to put together a list of what it anticipates will be “frequently asked questions” about who this new citywide health order will affect and how it will be enforced. Stimpson said his administration will also be working with the Mobile City Council on a separate ordinance that would establish enforcement practices and penalties for violations.
“Instead of putting [a violator] into a car with a policeman and bringing them downtown, which we don’t want to do because we don’t want to clog up the court system or the jail, they’ll be subject to a fine,” he said. “We’ll need the council to work with us to establish those fines.”
Asked what enforcement might look like, Stimpson said officers from the Mobile Police Department would be enforcing the city’s ordinance as well as a broader statewide “stay at home” order issued by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday as well.
“A policeman has the right, the authority and direction to pull you over and ask where you’re going, and if you can show evidence you’re on your way to [somewhere approved in the “stay at home” order], they’re going to allow you to go on,” Stimpson said. “But, if you can’t give them a valid reason for why you’re out, you’re going to be given a ticket and fined.”
You can read the full stay at home order below but here are a few of the provisions with regard to what activities are allowed during the day time and who is allowed out after the nightly curfew is in effect.
Nighttime Curfew (10 p.m. to 5 p.m.):
From 10 p.m., April 4, through 12 a.m., April 30, Mobile’s stay at home order will prevent all travel by “foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile or public transit” between 10 p.m. to 5 p.m.
However there are exemptions for the following:
1) Public safety workers
2) Public health workers, hospital and healthcare employees including assisted living facilities
3) Utilities, cable, telecommunications, internet companies and their contractors
4) government employees or contractors
5) Credential members of the media and necessary support staff
6) Employees of an industry deemed vital to the national economy (including any that are necessary to the national defense, air transport or public health and safety)
7) Those traveling through the city from one location outside the city to another
8) Those traveling to their residences from inside the city
9) Persons experiencing homelessness.
Daytime restrictions (5 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
In addition to the curfew, the order also limits who can be out of their homes during the day and why. However, it includes broad provisions allowing citizens to perform “essential activities,” like going to grocery and hardware stores, pharmacies, picking up to-go food, or having food delivered.
Restaurants will also still be allowed to sell to-go and curbside food and drink orders. Local parks will also remain open for activities like hiking, walking, running or others that allow participants to maintain 6 feet of separation.
Who can be out and why?
1) Those who are exempt from the nightly curfew:
2) Those who are: engaged in crisis intervention, sanitation service, and delivery service, including the deliveries of food merchandise and mail, employees and customers of essential businesses, and necessary government employees and contractors at all levels.
3) Those at gatherings of less than 10 persons or work related gathers that can maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons.
4) Anyone conducting essential activities such as:
Getting medicine or services from a doctor or veterinarian, getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as groceries and supplies necessary for sheltering in place including food or drink for take-out or delivery, provided that social distancing protocols are maintained by the restaurant or other provider.
5) The Mobility assistance program through WAVE Transit System will also continue to operate.
6) Employees patrons of essential businesses:
Under the order, essential businesses are defined as:
Healthcare providers, Home health services
Construction and manufacturing related companies that maintain homes or businesses, public works projects, utilities or similar structures or projects.
Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks and convenience stores, restaurants and other providers of take-out or delivery or food and drink.
Shelter facilities and providers of necessities for disadvantaged or vulnerable individuals
Pharmacies, healthcare supply stores and other similar businesses
Gas stations, auto repair facilities, banks, garbage collect services and hardware stores.
Plumbers, electricians and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences and essential businesses
Educational institutions for purposes of facilitating distance learning
Laundromats, dry, cleaners and laundry service providers
Businesses that ship go deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences
Child care facilities providing services that enable essential employees to go to work
Providers of services for essential business including but not limited to security, payroll, professional organizations and services including those providing dental, medical and surgical procedures permitted under existing health orders (which have restricted all non-emergency or elective procedures)
Although it is not mentioned specifically in the order, Mobile County Public School System employees going back to classrooms to pick up supplies following spring break are exempt. Stimpson also said college students coming on campus to clean out dorm rooms would be exempt as well.
Jason Johnson contributed to this report
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