Tuscaloosa to shut down bars, limit restaurant alcohol sales for two weeks


CW / Hannah Saad

Following a rise in COVID-19 cases, UA President Stuart Bell speaks at a joint press conference with the city of Tuscaloosa on Monday.

Tuscaloosa bars, along with bar service at restaurants, are closed for 14 days, effective August 24 at 5 p.m. Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox announced the executive order, made at the request of the University, during a press conference on Monday. 

“The rise in COVID cases that we’ve seen in recent days is unacceptable,” Bell said. “And if unchecked, threatens our ability to complete the semester on campus.” 

Bell said the virus is the challenge, not the students. 

After the “bid day incident,” Student Government Association President Demarcus Joiner said he has seen more students, or at least individuals he presumes to be students, in line for bars wearing masks. 

“I think it’s going to hit [students] hard, but I think hopefully students will understand that this is more than them. This is for the community,”Joiner said. 

Ricky Friend, dean of UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, said this plan will allow UA to continue its semester on campus and “avoid more economic pain and suffering for our community partners in the long term.”  

“The truth is that fall in Tuscaloosa is in serious jeopardy,” Maddox said. 

Maddox said the University and the city of Tuscaloosa have a shared responsibility to avoid disruption of the healthcare system and local economy. He will work with the city council to make investments in local bars and restaurants to offset the disproportionate impact these businesses have suffered throughout the pandemic. 

Friend said the University plans to test 1,000 students per day as it begins sentinel testing this week. Its testing will target “locations where geographic spread has been documented.” 

Results from re-entry testing will be published to the System-wide data dashboard starting today. Sentinel testing results will follow as that data is available. 

While isolation spaces on campus are not at capacity, Friend said the recent rise in cases has sparked discussions about the need for additional quarantine spaces. Potential locations for these spaces were not disclosed.