FACT CHECK: Viral Post Claims The Atlanta Mayor Is Shutting Down The City For NBA All-Star Weekend

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A viral Facebook post shared over 1,500 times claims Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is shutting down the city for the NBA All-Star Game weekend.

Verdict: False

While Atlanta continues to have restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, there is no evidence that Bottoms ordered the city of Atlanta to be shut down in connection to the upcoming NBA All-Star Weekend.

Fact Check:

NBA All-Star Weekend, which typically occurs in February, features skills challenges for all-star players followed by the All-Star Game.

This year, the events have been condensed into a single night, March 7, at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, according to an NBA press release. The NBA stated in the Feb. 18 press release that “for the well-being and safety of the greater Atlanta community, there will be no fan activities, ticketed events or hospitality functions as part of All-Star.”

A viral Facebook post falsely alleges Bottoms is “shutting down the city for All-Star Weekend,” despite no indication she is doing so. (RELATED: Did The NBA Tell Trump To ‘Resign Or We’ll Never Play Again’?)

While Atlanta, like most other major cities across the U.S., continues to have restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, Check Your Fact didn’t find any orders “shutting down” Atlanta in connection to the game on the mayor’s website or any news reporting about such a move. Bottoms has, however, urged people not to travel to Atlanta “to party” and encouraged promoters, bars and clubs not to host events for the game.

“Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year,” Bottoms said in a statement, according to the local media outlet 11Alive. “I shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only and people should not travel to Atlanta to party. There will be no NBA sanctioned events open to the public, and we strongly encourage promoters, clubs, bars, etc. not to host events in the city related to this game.”

When asked by MSNBC’s Katy Tur in late February about what enforcement actions the city could take, Bottoms said, “We’re preparing as best we can, but part of what we’ve been doing anyway is cracking down on what we call ‘nuisance properties’ in the city. Those are bar owners and club owners who are not respecting the occupancy laws, who are not abiding by where we are,” according to the video-clip editing service Grabien.

Atlanta bars can have “up to fifty people or 35% of listed fire capacity,” according to WSB-TV 2. Bottoms went on to say during her MSNBC appearance that the “crux of our issue is that when the governor issued an executive order opening up our state, in so many ways he tied our hands, so there’s only so much that we can do in the city, but we are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure that people are abiding by the rules that we have, and, again, just appealing to common decency.”

Bottoms’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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