Less than a week after students returned to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Mayor Walt Maddox has announced an executive order to close all bars in the city and end bar service at restaurants for 14 days as COVID-19 cases rise at an unacceptable rate among the student population.

Neither the city nor the University has released official numbers detailing the spread of the virus among students, but in a joint press conference Monday morning featuring Maddox, UA President Stuart Bell and Ricky Friend, dean of the UA College of Community Health Sciences, Maddox announced the following new restrictions will go into effect a 5 p.m. Monday.

  • All bars in the city will be closed for two weeks, from August 24 until September 8.
  • Bar services at restaurants is also prohibited, for the same period, although table service of alcohol will still be allowed
  • Maddox will petition the Alabama Beverage Control (ABC) Board to prohibit the sale of alcohol for on-premise consumption throughout all of Tuscaloosa County

"The truth is that fall in Tuscaloosa is in serious jeopardy," Maddox said. "If we fail to act with the courage of our convictions, DCH will be at risk of being stretched beyond its capacity within the next four to six weeks and if we do nothing, UA will be forced to go to virtual classes and the economic consequences will be harsh and long-lasting."

Friend said he and other medical professionals believe the move is necessary after seeing a significant community spread of the virus in the student body, especially the in fraternities and sororities.

"We have encountered many students who have been exposed since returning to campus, particularly in the Greek system," Friend said. "The trend continued throughout the week and now has reached levels that require a significant intervention."

Watch the full press conference below.

This story will be updated with more information.

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