HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) – As the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic worsen for Alabama, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said he’s taking guidance from state and federal health officials on tougher restrictions.
March 24, Birmingham issued a “shelter in place” order. It closed all nonessential businesses, but the city does allow people to leave their homes for exercise and essentials.
The same day, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth questioned whether Alabama was ready for a “tsunami” of coronvirus patients in a memo to the Alabama COVID-19 Task Force.
“We’ll keep monitoring. We’re going to follow the CDC guidelines, we’re going to follow the Alabama Department of Public Health, we’ll do everything that we do, we’ll do in conjunction with both the Alabama Department of Public Health, the CDC and our local health organizations. We talk on a daily basis and we’ll continue to monitor,” he said.
He did not elaborate on how the city would determine what circumstances would bring out a “shelter in place” order.
Huntsville City Attorney Trey Riley said Huntsville’s emergency declaration does not specifically give Battle the power to unilaterally announce a shelter in place order.
“We are not Louisiana, we’re not New York State, we’re not California, and right now is not the time to order people to shelter in place,” she said.
“We’ve got to have our businesses operating to provide the materials that our teachers need, that our medical professionals need, we’ve got to have food provided, and we’ve got to have all the materials that are needed to keep Alabamians working as much as we can.”