Now is the time to act responsibly and self-police, says Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. If residents of Auburn cannot avoid social gatherings and cannot quarantine, a curfew/shelter-in-place order could be implemented.
Auburn is not alone. Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller said he is working closely with Anders and the action of one city will likely be taken by the other.
“This is one of those things that we’re so close together, that we’re going to do the same thing,” Fuller said. “You can almost bet on that. We’re in the talking stages.”
The situation is unprecedented, Anders said, and he is reviewing things daily. The pandemic is changing rapidly, however, and things could be different by even tomorrow morning, he said.
The two cities are determining if they even have the legal right to declare a shelter-in-place order, Anders said. Birmingham, which recently put one in place, operates under a different law, which gave it the authority to do so, he said.
“We will be digging in on this early this week and trying to understand, is this something that potentially could be done in our community and could it legally be done in our community?, and right now, we’re not sure,” Anders said.
However, even if Auburn and Opelika do have the legal right to institute shelter-in-place orders, neither mayor wants that to happen.
“What I have hoped the whole time, has been this: We have strongly asked our community to voluntarily shelter-in-place,” Anders said. “Which means you go out for all the essential things you have to go out for that make all the common sense of the world.
“But for the frivolous things, that you don’t necessarily have to do … for those items where you are compromising the six-foot social distancing recommendations that are in place, we’re asking our community to voluntarily police themselves and not to participate in those activities.”
Fuller said that for the most part, he believes Opelika has done well with the social distancing and quarantining and that if more restrictions were put in place, it would perhaps start with an overnight curfew.
“I would prefer not to have a curfew, but it may become necessary,” Fuller said. “I think most folks in Opelika, by and large, are doing an excellent job of social distancing, no large crowds and we’ve got a few folks that apparently don’t think this applies to them.”
Fuller said he has asked Opelika Police Chief John McEacherrn to break up parties and large social gatherings as a way of reminding people to social distance.
Other methods have been to close the Opelika Parks and Recreation basketball courts, as of Monday morning, Fuller said. Bandy Park and Covington Park are also closed.
“Keep your distance, stay home as much as you can and keep your dad-burn hands washed,” Fuller said.