Atlanta mayor, chief of police discuss what's next for curfew and coronavirus phases

With the coronavirus and protests being two of the most pressing issues the city faces today, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recognizes those living in the city want to know when things will return to normal.

The mayor says there is no exact date for when the curfew will be lifted, but she said during a public safety conference call Thursday, she hopes the unrest, like the number of coronavirus cases, will subside.

The city-wide curfew will be an hour earlier this Friday, Saturday and Sunday—starting at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., as it has been for the past several days.

Mayor Bottoms explained much of the unrest and riots have settled since last Friday, but then she says the city won't up on the curfew just yet.

"It is not my desire to have a curfew in the city of Atlanta in any form or fashion but it is necessary until things stabilize a bit," she said to city council members Thursday.

Several other agencies that assisted Atlanta police over the tumultuous weekend have since backed out after six Atlanta officers were arrested for excessive force while arresting two college students.

Police Chief Erika Shields says the extra help from outside jurisdictions and the Georgia National Guard is necessary to quell the violence that paralleled peaceful protests.

"The sooner we can get a handle on it, the sooner we can go back to APD managing the city," Shields said.

SEE ALSO: Atlanta mayor, police chief address protesters on 7th day of demonstrations

The pandemic is also preventing the city from operating as it normally does.

"The governor’s order will supersede anything from the city of Atlanta," the mayor reminded council members.

As of right now, in phase two, businesses, bars, and restaurants are free to open, and small gatherings can take place, but now, the mayor is encouraging those businesses to close well before curfew so employees will be off the streets before it goes into effect.

Phase three of reopening, the mayor says, is dependent upon contact tracing that the state is still researching.

Chief Shields says of the nearly 500 arrests this week, only 35 percent of them are local, or from Atlanta. The rest are from other parts of Georgia or out of state. She says this is "uncharted territory" and the curfew helps keep things in order.

Likewise, with coronavirus cases are up more than 10% and deaths up more than 11% the mayor encourages patience as the Department of Health continues to monitor the numbers.