|Tuscaloosa, AL – On Friday, April 17 Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox issued an executive order re-adopting the Alabama Department of Public Health’s “Stay at Home” order until April 30. The order requires people to stay in their place of residence unless they are performing an “essential activity” such as grocery shopping or visiting a doctor or pharmacy, working at an essential business, taking care or others, or engaging in appropriate outdoor exercises.|
During his Virtual Town Hall on April 17, the Mayor explained that the City is working on a plan for beginning to allow businesses that have been deemed inessential during the Stay at Home order to reopen in limited capacities. Mayor Maddox will present the plan that the Incident Command team is currently finalizing to the City Council on April 28.
The Incident Command team will work with the Chamber of Commerce over the coming weeks to gather feedback from local business stakeholders about how they believe they can reopen safely. Additionally, the City will vet all aspects of the plan through a panel of medical professionals from DCH, UAB, and other institutions. One key factor that these professionals will help the City understand is where Tuscaloosa stands on the availability of tests, hospital beds, and personal protective equipment for medical staff and first responders. Mayor Maddox explains, “History has taught us that during pandemics, the second wave can be much more costly than the first. Tuscaloosa is going to do everything in our power to prevent a deadly second wave in our community.”
During the Virtual Town Hall, Associate City Attorney Scott Holmes and Director of Urban Development Brendan Moore explained that reopening local businesses too quickly could also have an adverse effect on the businesses themselves. Holmes used the example of a local restaurant, which upon reopening would restock its kitchen with perishable foods. “If we had to turn around and shut down these businesses again shortly thereafter, these local restaurants would suffer again,” Holmes explained. Moore added, “Our ability to phase things in correctly now will also set us up for success when the over 25,000 students return to Tuscaloosa and we have that influx of people back in our city.”
Ultimately, City officials believe that Tuscaloosa’s main priority now is to ensure that we don’t undo the progress that has been made by the sacrifices Tuscaloosa residents have made over the past month. “The situation in which we had to close down the city was thrust upon us. Now we’re in a fortunate position where we have the time that we need to create a fully vetted plan to reopen,” Holmes explained.
Mayor Maddox used a football analogy to describe the situation our football-centric City is in. “We’re somewhere around halftime in this fight against COVID-19. Because of the sacrifices you’ve made, we’re winning. We took the early lead, and now we’re in a legitimate position for optimism. But being up at halftime doesn’t mean you win the game. What we do in the weeks ahead will determine the outcome in Tuscaloosa. We need to finish strong so that we can reclaim our lives safely.”