Birmingham City Council

City to Birmingham Residents: Stay Home Through April 30

Mayor Randall Woodfin during a community meeting in January 2019. (Source: Sam Prickett)

Birmingham’s shelter-in-place order has been extended through April 30.

The extension, approved unanimously by the Birmingham City Council on Friday, is intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the city by effectively instituting a citywide curfew, with exceptions for “essential” activities such as purchasing food, seeking health care or engaging in solitary outdoor recreation.

The shelter-in-place ordinance originally was passed March 24 and was set to expire Friday. It draws on the city’s legal power to enforce curfew. The Birmingham Police Department has enforcement authority, and violators could face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $500.

“Each of us has a responsibility and a duty to our families, to our neighbors and our communities to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “Please take the order seriously… If you do not, we will take the necessary steps to enforce social distancing.”

The full text of the ordinance — including a list of exceptions to the shelter-in-place order — is available on the city’s website.

While the extension does not add any restrictions to the March 24 ordinance, Woodfin added that some parts of city government have taken additional action.

“Effective today, the city of Birmingham park and recreation board has restricted all city parks to solitary activity only,” he said. “Far too many times last weekend, large groups gathered at our parks. That can no longer happen. These new restrictions are in place to protect you and give you the option to use our parks for solitary use only. If you cannot comply, it’s simple — don’t go to our city parks … If people can’t police themselves, we will have to move to totally shut down our parks.”

Woodfin also suggested that the city may take steps in coming weeks to limit the density of crowds allowed into big-box stores and encouraged customers to practice social distancing while shopping for essentials.

Council President William Parker suggested at the end of Friday’s meeting that the council itself will likely begin meeting virtually — a strategy that has already been enacted by the Jefferson County Commission — though some technical details still need to be sorted out, he said.