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City News

Mayor Works With Local Business Owners to Find Balance in Promoting Community Health

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox was granted emergency powers by the City Council on Tuesday, August 3, in an effort to protect the local healthcare system from the increasing spread of COVID-19.

“Over the next few weeks, Tuscaloosa’s population will increase by over 20,000 people,” Mayor Walt Maddox explained. “With our healthcare system currently in a ‘manageable but fragile’ position, we have to govern in this moment for the possibilities of what our needs will be over the next three to six weeks.  To do this, we must move at the speed of the virus and not government because not acting will cause more harm.”

One identified issue that the Mayor hopes to address is the non-compliance of late-night patrons at bars and similar businesses to the State Health Officer’s Safer at Home Order, including the state-wide face covering ordinance. On Wednesday, August 5, the Mayor met with local bar and restaurant owners to discuss limits on alcohol sales. Simple and equitable solutions were found for alcohol sales at local bars, and discussions will continue with restaurant owners before moving forward next week with potential adjustments to restaurant alcohol sales. All adjustments to the State’s Safer at Home Order regarding alcohol sales will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

On August 6, the Mayor issued an executive order effective at 5 p.m. the same day with the following adjustments: 

  • Bars, brewpubs, and similar businesses which hold alcohol licenses will have an occupancy limit of 50% of normal occupancy after 9 p.m.
  • Clubs and entertainment venues will have an occupancy limit of 25% of normal occupancy at all times.

The purpose of this order is to continue to protect our healthcare system by promoting the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Tuscaloosa and mitigate the spread of an infectious disease by reducing risk of exposure. This order is set to expire ten days after the expiration of the State Health Order. Failure to comply with this order is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 6 months in jail.

The Mayor has also asked the Tuscaloosa Police Department in cooperation with the University of Alabama Police department to step up their enforcement of the face covering ordinance, house parties, and occupancy limits at local bars beginning at the implementation of this order. 

On Thursday evening, City officials will pass out masks to bar patrons on the strip and downtown to assist those without easy access to masks.

To read the full executive order, please visit Tuscaloosa.com/COVID19.