UPDATE: Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a stay-at-home order and the mayor has expressed his full support of the directive.
As states, cities and communities around the country are under stay-at-home orders, most Alabama cities and the state as a whole are not. Because of the way the Constitution of Alabama is written, cities like Auburn are not able to implement a local stay-at-home order.
Auburn could, however, implement a curfew, which Mayor Ron Anders said he does not think is necessary at the moment.
“Our public safety, police in particular, have not communicated to the city leadership that they are seeing a rash of gatherings in the evenings that would constitute the need for a curfew,” Anders said.
This could be gathering at parks or homes, which police are not seeing much of. That doesn’t mean it’s not happening though, Anders said. Police officers can’t be everywhere at once, but they generally are not seeing it.
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There is a lot of gray area in the state constitution for what Auburn and other Alabama cities could do. For example, a curfew could look like a shelter-in-place order or could be more relaxed, Anders said.
Anders said he believes it makes much more sense for a shelter-in-place or similar order to come from the state rather than from each city.
“I believe that if the state is acting in a unified fashion, it is just simpler for the municipalities and counties to govern that with their citizens,” Anders said. “If you’ve got one city with a shelter in place that has this set of requirements and restrictions and then you have another one these requirements and restrictions. The messaging becomes very confusing.”
Anders said he thinks the signs are pointing to Alabama establishing a stay-at-home order as the states surrounding Alabama put orders into place.
Things are changing every hour of every day, Anders said. By the end of the day, the situation could be completely different.
Anders and Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller are asking residents to continue to abide by the rules and guidelines coming from the Center for Disease Control and other government entities. This includes only going out for essential things and to remain at home.
“Now 'essential', that’s where there is a lot of gray area,” Anders said. “To most people essential is to the hospital, to the pharmacy, to the doctor, to the bank, to work, to exercise. To some people, 'essential' is a little bit more than that.”
Anders asks that residents only go out if they have to, and if they do have to go out that they remain six feet away from others.
“If we cannot abide by these requests, then we will have to look further to other avenues to make sure that our community is as safe as it could possibly be,” Anders said.
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