Petition calls on leaders to close Atlanta's BeltLine during COVID-19 pandemic

Thousands of people are throwing their support behind a petition to close The BeltLine. They believe allowing crowds to access the trail does little to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“I don't feel that our public officials are taking enough responsibility to look out for the safety of the community,” says Ryan Vizzions, who lives in Atlanta. “Sometimes drastic decisions have to be taken to protect everybody. Things like The BeltLine don't serve a necessity or essential need for the city.”

Vizzions' friend started a petition calling on the City of Atlanta to shut down The BeltLine. The goal is to get 10,000 signatures. By Monday afternoon, it had more than 7,700.

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Michael Smith, who is Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' press secretary, says not so fast. Smith provided FOX 5 with the following statement:

"BeltLine trail usage numbers continue to decrease, showing that efforts to stagger trail traffic and stress social distancing are resonating. The Mayor continues to monitor the BeltLine and consult with public health professionals on a daily basis. The BeltLine is a transportation corridor that provides critical connections to essential services for residents.

"The Mayor has repeatedly stated that whether or not the BeltLine remains open is up to the individuals who use it. If residents practice social distancing, avoid peak hours and use a little common sense, there will be no need to close it.

"However, if usage numbers increase and residents do not heed the general safety guidelines set forth, adjustments—including limiting hours or closing the trail altogether—will be made accordingly."

Vizzions says people who flock to The BeltLine to exercise or visit area bars and restaurants need to do their part to help flatten the curve.

“There was no accountability to the fact that there's a worldwide pandemic going on killing thousands of people.”

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