Jasper Mayor David O'Mary said Friday afternoon he took action that morning concerning a nighttime restriction concerning city parks.
"We've been seeing some after dark activity activities in our park that we've not seen before," he said. "Some people are just trying to get out of the house. I closed all of our city parks effective this evening. from 7 in the evening to 7 in the morning. Our folks will enforce that."
The parks will continue to be open in the day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., he said.
However, he indicated there are still limitations with the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
"Some people have put on pressure to open the ballfields back up to play Little League ball. We're not going to do that," he said.
O'Mary said the city "had a little problem in one of our parks last night. So we felt it was in the best interest just to shut that down." He said people were "congregating after dark. You know all the things that can go on. Nobody's been shot or anything like that, but it would be best if we didn't have it."
He said the city continues to monitor the pandemic each day. "There is not a justification for a complete shutdown, or to have a curfew or make people to shelter in place. It may get there and I have no problem taking drastic action to do just that, but we are not there just yet.
O'Mary said he and city employees are working, and no layoffs have taken place. "My commitment from the outset was to keep things as normal as we can keep them in Jasper, and our leadership team has done a tremendous job in coming together and building our plan, and rehashing our plan." He said he had a "high level of confidence" if difficulties come that the city will be able to work through it.
Mayor encourages staying at home
O'Mary also issued a statement on Facebook Friday in reaction to Gov. Kay Ivey's order on Friday that set in place a number of restrictions statewide for businesses and attractions.
"In light of recent actions by and comments from Governor Kay Ivey, I would like to express to the citizens of Jasper the seriousness and complexity of the current pandemic situation," he said. "As of this statement, we are finding increasing numbers of people in our state infected with this virus, and that will no doubt continue to climb, in some part due to increased testing.
"Today, I am strongly encouraging you to stay home. Stay out of public places for the next few weeks. While I do not believe we need a city imposed shelter in place at this time, I do agree that the less you come out into public, the less chance the virus has to spread. However, I do not believe a forced shelter in place order is necessary at this time."
He said he did agree with the governor that if one feels they need to shelter in place, they should. He said one doesn't need his permission or Ivey's permission to do that.
"And as she stated, I am in the position of not only providing for the health and well being of our citizens, but also the operating of critical city services, along with the continued operations of our local economy, not just today but for our future," he said. "I am evaluating our local situation each day based on information that I receive daily. Please rest assured, I am diligently watching this situation; listening and talking with advisers who understand what is going on, and getting information from public health officials with nothing but the best intentions and hopes for our city and our people.
Finally, we do not have the same obstacles faced by a Tuscaloosa, or a Birmingham. "Jasper does not have tens of thousands of college age students roaming the city at night to require curfew setting. We do not have general residential areas downtown that cause great congregating numbers. We have to make decisions that are best for us, and related to our situation. In my opinion the last measure I would take would be to further restrict the individual liberties of any citizen unless absolutely necessary.
"Once again, I am urging you very strongly to stay at home unless going to work or making very limited trips for food or medical/pharmaceutical related issues. If you are one of the businesses mentioned in today's list of non essential operations to be closed, you MUST close and follow state guidance. If you are an essential operations employee, take every precaution you can going to and from work, and once home, remain there if at all possible."
He asked people to keep praying for the situation to end quickly and to pray for leaders dealing with the pandemic.