We find ourselves in unprecedented times as the COVID-19 virus is continuing to spread in Vestavia Hills and across the nation. At this stage of the pandemic, it is absolutely essential to slow virus transmission to protect ourselves and our loved ones, and to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. The ONLY way we can do this is by eliminating interactions among people to the greatest extent possible. I implore you to shelter in place to the maximum extent possible and to avoid unnecessary interactions with others. Those who are asymptomatic – showing no noticeable symptoms – can easily spread this disease, so even small public gatherings or person-to-person interactions can result in transmission of the virus. If it is absolutely necessary to leave your place of residence you should, at all times, make every effort to follow all protocols – adhere to strict social distancing requirements, wash your hands frequently and vigorously and, if possible, wear a mask/cloth while in public.
Governor Ivey has issued a public safety order that goes into effect on April 4, 2020 at 5pm. This order will remain in effect until at least April 30. While many of the requirements contained in the order have been in effect for weeks, there are a few new requirements of note:
- Enforcement: The order states that, “Any person who knowingly violates or fails or refuses to obey or comply … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not less than $25 nor more than $500 …” I am confident that all Vestavia Hills residents will strictly adhere to the Governor’s order and that police intervention will not be necessary. As always, the goal of the Vestavia Hills Police Department is not to excessively enforce the law, but rather to provide the safest possible community environment for our residents. VHPD remains available at any time, day or night. If you have questions and wish to speak to an officer, call 205.978.0139. For VHPD assistance, contact our dispatch office at 205.823.1153 or, for emergency assistance, call 911.
- Essential businesses and operations: “… a business may continue to operate through curbside pickup, delivery, remotely or any other method that does not involve a customer entering its building, provided that the business takes all reasonable steps to ensure a consistent six-foot distance between persons.” This includes grocery stores, food providers (restaurants), pharmacies and hardware stores. (See pages 4 and 5 of the Governor’s order for the full list of essential businesses.)
- Max occupancy for essential businesses: “Occupancy shall be limited to no more than 50 percent of the normal occupancy load as determined by the fire marshal.” Please exercise patience when patronizing any of our essential businesses. Limiting occupancy is for your safety.
City staff is working to provide services with as little interruption as possible while, at the same time, adhering to best practices for a healthy work environment. As always, first responders will continue to service all 911 calls. VHFD has adjusted medical response protocols to limit the number of personnel on scene and in contact with patients, all while maintaining the same exemplary level of service to our residents. We are grateful for the tireless commitment of our first responders to our community and thank them for their dedicated service to Vestavia Hills.
Sanitation services are being provided with only minor adjustments. Republic Services will pick up household waste in carts only – drivers are not authorized to leave their vehicle to pick up waste outside of the cart. This does NOT apply to residents who qualify for backdoor garbage collection – backdoor collection service will continue as normal. If you experience a disruption in service, please submit the missed trash pick-up in the Action Center.
During these stressful, change-filled days, I encourage you to go outside for fresh air and exercise and to focus on the positives. Beautiful chalk pictures are being drawn on sidewalks and driveways, and some residents have put up lights and ribbons to show support. These actions illuminate our spirits and are so nice to see! Thank you in advance for your commitment to stay at home for the safety of yourself, your loved ones and your community. Together, we will get through this!
Orders, Proclamations & Advisories
Following are links to the most recent orders and proclamations, with the most recent at the top of the list:
- April 3, 2020: Order of the State Health Officer suspending certain public gatherings – Stay at Home Statewide Order.
- March 29, 2020: President Trump announced federal guidance urging social distancing will stay in place through April 30.
- March 27, 2020: Amended Order of the Alabama Department of Public Health issuing statewide social distancing measures. Click here for clarification of this ADPH order as it relates to businesses.
- March 25, 2020: FEMA Advisory
- March 23, 2020: Proclamation by the the Governor postponing certain state tax obligations
- March 23, 2020 (effective at 5pm): Order of the Jefferson County Health Officer suspending certain public gatherings and closing non-essential businesses and services
- March 20, 2020: Amended Order of the Jefferson County Health Officer suspending certain public gatherings and closing non-essential businesses and services
- March 19, 2020: Order of the Jefferson County Health Officer suspending certain public gatherings and closing non-essential businesses and services
- March 19, 2020: Order of the State Health Officer Suspending Certain Public Gatherings
- March 18, 2020: Proclamation by the Governor outlining measures of relief during the state health emergency.
- March 18, 2020: Order of the State Department of Revenue waiving late payment penalties for small businesses.
- March 13, 2020: Order Suspending In-Person Court Proceedings
Helpful Links & Information
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Alabama Department of Health
- Jefferson County Department of Health: The Jefferson County Health Department has developed an Operations Dashboard to provide current Alabama data for COVID-19 cases (data from ADPH). Click on a county in the map for the confirmed number of cases. The dashboard also contains CDC national data for comparison.
- For updates and information on COVID-19 in Jefferson County, text INFOJEFFCO to 888777 to receive text alerts on your cell phone.
- Vestavia Hills City Schools Parent Information
- Shop Local Guide: The Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce has compiled Restaurant, Retail and Service Guides to assist residents in supporting locally owned and/or operated businesses.
Adjustments to City Services
- Meetings: For those interested in attending City meetings, adjustments will be made to adhere to the Public Health Order of the Jefferson County Health Department – maximum of 10 attendees at 6’ distances. By Proclamation of the Governor, additional options for virtual meeting attendance and participation are being developed. For information regarding participation in public meetings, click here.
- Building Permits & Licenses: Beginning Tuesday, March 17, residents and contractors may continue to request licenses and permits by depositing all required paperwork into the Drop Box to be located outside the Building Services department at City Hall. Building inspections are expected to continue as normal, as they have not been deemed to pose a significant health hazard. For assistance, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 205.978.0125.
- City Clerk: Beginning March 17, applications for Annexation, Design Review Board, Board of Zoning Approval and/or Planning & Zoning will continue to be accepted by depositing all required paperwork into the Drop Box to be located outside the City Clerk’s office at City Hall. For assistance or questions, email email@example.com or call 205.978.0131.
- Fire Administration: Access to the Fire Administration office at City Hall is being restricted for the health and safety of our first responders. Fire stations will remain open and fully operational. If you need immediate medical assistance, call 911.
- Library in the Forest: The Library in the Forest is closed to the public until at least May 1. For more information regarding online options for utilizing the library, click here.
- Municipal Court: The Alabama Supreme Court issued an order suspending all in-person court proceedings from March 16-April 16, 2020. As such, the Vestavia Hills Municipal Court will be closed for that period as well. Court appearances scheduled for March 16-April 16 will be rescheduled for the months of September and October, 2020. If you have questions relating to an impending proceeding, visit the Municipal Court’s web page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Defensive Driving School has been canceled until further notice.
- Parks & Recreation Facilities: Park & Recreation facilities (including playgrounds and gyms) are closed until further notice. This is in accordance with the most recent Alabama Department of Health Order calling for the closure. While green spaces and trails remain open, residents are asked to remember and respect social distancing orders for their safety and the safety of others.
- Parks & Recreation Sports Leagues: All spring recreational sports have been postponed until further notice.
- Senior Services: At the direction of the United Way Area Agency on Aging, all senior centers are closed until further notice. Seniors are considered the most at-risk population and we want to make every effort to particularly protect their health and well-being.
- Meals on Wheels Program: Those who are served at New Merkel House should have been contacted with instructions to pick up prepacked meals in the New Merkel House parking lot. If you have any questions, please contact Melanie Perry at email@example.com or 205.967.5977. If you are serviced at the Civic Center and have questions, please contact Sandi Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205.978.0163.
- Senior Transportation Program: The Senior Transportation has been suspended at this time. If you have an emergent need, please contact Sandi Wilson at email@example.com or 205.978.0163.
- Trash & Recycling Collection: Due to the recent surge in residential waste, Republic Services is temporarily modifying their service offerings to keep our community clean and safe. Until further notice, they will be operating under the following guidelines:
- Republic will accept cart contents only. Drivers are not authorized to leave their vehicle to pick up waste outside of the cart. This does NOT apply to residents who qualify for backdoor garbage collection. Backdoor collection service is continuing as normal.
For additional information or updates, visit RepublicServices.com.
- Vehicle Tags: In-person tag renewals and new car registrations are being suspended until further notice. Please visit http://www.altagrenewals.com to renew your vehicle tag online. To register a new vehicle tag, visit www.easytagal.com. If you have any questions, please contact the City of Vestavia Hills Tag Clerk at 205.978.0188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Yard Sale Permits: To obtain a yard sale permit, call 205.978.0188.
What Can You Do?
We fully understand your concerns and, as always, are continuing efforts to assure your health and well-being. We encourage all residents, businesses and City staff to adhere to the following recommendations:
- Do not call 911 or go to hospital emergency departments for the purpose of being tested for COVID-19. Testing should be reserved for those who are showing symptoms and/or have been advised by their physician to be tested. If you have a fever, cough or other symptoms of a contagious respiratory illness and you must call 911 for a medical emergency. Please inform the 911 dispatcher of your symptoms. This will allow first responders to take extra measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or your upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Discard used tissues immediately.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer that is 60-90% alcohol-based.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Practice social distancing. Try to keep an optimal six-foot distance from other people.
- Stay home if you are not feeling well or experiencing flu-like symptoms. Contact your doctor.
What is Being Done by the City of Vestavia Hills?
- City staff are working to service resident requests as quickly and safely as possible.
- Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of all public buildings.
- Operational adjustments have been made in various City departments to reduce or eliminate in-person transactions.
- Staff is continuing to employ “best practices,” i.e. frequent and thorough hand washing, the use of hand sanitizer, etc.
- Symptomatic staff will be requested to stay home and to not come to work. Department heads have been instructed to employ liberal policies in regard to the usage of sick/vacation leave.
- Travel limitations imposed on City staff.
- Work schedules are being adjusted as needed to assure that public safety services do not experience an interruption.
- Centralized communication to quickly and effectively distribute messages to residents.