By Joshua Huff, sports editor
MONTGOMERY — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced a relaxing of the state’s current statewide stay-at-home order on Tuesday in what she has dubbed the “Safer at Home” order, which takes effect at 5 p.m. on Thursday and expires May 15, 2020.
The new “Safer at Home” order opens retail stores, beaches and allows for elective medical procedures. Those businesses that are to remain closed are educational institutions, restaurants, bars, breweries, entertainment venues, athletic faculties and close-contact service providers.
“I look forward to easing back into our routines with caution,” Ivey said during a press conference on Tuesday morning. “Just like we eased into this current stay-at-home order. We will also be thoughtful and careful as we ease back into our social interactions.”
Though the governor has eased restrictions, she still recommends that people practice social distancing, wear face masks when out in public and maintain hand washing. Gatherings of 10 or more people still are prohibited.
Ivey’s “Safer at Home” order falls slightly short of recommendations released by the White House regarding the phased reopening of state economies. Those new guidelines are aimed at easing restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while holding the line in harder-hit locations. Officials made clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than the federal government expects, with federal officials warning that some social distancing measures might need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak.
Under the White Houses’ plan, Phase one recommends strict social distancing for all people in public. Gatherings larger than 10 people are to be avoided and nonessential travel is discouraged; Phase two recommends that people are encouraged to maximize social distancing and limit gatherings to no more than 50 people unless precautionary measures are taken. Travel could resume; Phase three envisions a return to normalcy for most Americans, with a focus on identifying and isolating new infections.
Alabama’s “Safer at Home” plan keeps the majority of the state’s industry closed, while relaxing rules for some businesses with many caveats.
“We are not proceeding to the full phase one reopening consistent with the White House plans,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said. “The White House plans suggested reopening entertainment venues, gyms and restaurants and a number of other things that we are not doing at this time.”
The “Safer at Home” order is as follows:
- Individuals are encouraged to stay at home.
- Businesses can open subject to sanitation and social-distancing guidelines; certain higher-risk businesses and activities remain closed.
- All retail stores are to reopen with 50% capacity. Must practice social distancing and hand sanitation.
- Beaches are to open with no gatherings of 10 people or more and must maintain 6 feet of separation.
- Medical procedures are allowed and must follow COVID-19-related rules.
WHAT STAYS THE SAME
- Non-work gatherings are still limited to 10 people or less with 6 feet of distance maintained.
- Senior citizen centers are still to suspend regular programming except meals.
- Schools are still closed.
- Childcare facilities must not allow 12 or more children in room.
- Hospitals and nursing homes implement policies to restrict visitation.
- Restaurants, bars and breweries are closed to dine in; take-out, curbside or delivery only allowed.
- Night clubs, theaters, bowling alleys, gyms, barbershops, hair salons, tattoo services still closed.