Concerns in Tuscaloosa after people ticketed and arrested while violating city’s COVID ordinances

Ticketing and arrest for mask ordinance

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Sunday’s events on the Strip, just off the University of Alabama campus and beyond, left some people feeling concerned.

“It’s a safety threat. It’s a real risk. The situation is very real. We gotta do our best to take care of each other,” Marcus Rogers told WBRC.

Crowds formed at several bars after Bid Day festivities moved off the University of Alabama campus. Tuscaloosa Police wrote tickets on 12 people who were not wearing face coverings. They also arrested 4 people on charges of obstruction of justice, refusal to sign citations that they violated the mask ordinance and or disorderly conduct or resisting arrest.

Tripp Rogers, owner of Innisfree Irish Pub in downtown Tuscaloosa, felt there’s little businesses can do to make people follow city rules on city property.

“So the lines everyone saw outside the bars and restaurants are because they’re not allowed in. And they’re on city property. And We can’t enforce anything on city property. And we can’t tell people what to do on city property. We can when they come inside,” Rogers explained.

People do have to wear masks to come inside bars, restaurants and other businesses. They can take them off when they get ready to eat and drink. Pictures of people crowded outside of businesses and not wearing face coverings went viral after Bid Day festivities on campus moved off-campus.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Maddox says they need people to follow the rules to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t spread more than it has here.

“We will never enforce our way into solving this. So we just ask that people continue to do the right thing,” Maddox continued.

Monday, some worried it could hurt football being played at the University if students who were careful infected others with COVID.

“I really would like to have a college football season this year. Do you think they want to have a college football season? I think so, I think it’s just kind of hard to control college kids,” according to UA alum Patrick Rainey.

“I think that big of a crowd just has the potential to jeopardize it. There’s benefit that comes out of that,” Alabama social work major Madison Smith explained.

WBRC found several people wearing masks as they walked around campus. Many reminders were also posted asking people to wear a face covering and to socially distance. Smith thinks peer pressure may be the best way to convince people to wear a face covering.

“I think a lot of students had peers that said it wasn’t cool. That it wasn’t OK to do that.” Maddox added.

The University has agreed to provide help from UA-PD, they will work together on a communications strategy as well as reach out to landlords and bar owners when it comes to face coverings and social distancing.

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