By Joshua Huff, sports editor
BIRMINGHAM – Following Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision to relax rules regarding limits on gatherings and her decision to allow most businesses to reopen with certain stipulations, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson recommended that the public within Jefferson County refrain from gatherings of 10 or more as the coronavirus continues to spread throughout Alabama.
The recommendation is not an order, Wilson said Friday during a meeting with the Jefferson County Unified Command, but simply a request that people practice social distancing for at least two more weeks. The recommendation encompassed churches and other businesses within Jefferson County that welcome large groups of people.
“Because you’re allowed to do something it’s not necessarily the right thing or the smart thing to do,” Wilson said.
The request is an effort by the Jefferson County Department of Health to curtail a spike in the number of cases that many expect as the nation grapples with the balance of salvaging the economy and saving lives.
“I think the huge concern right now for us is that with this opening, if people don’t continue to take this evidence forward, we’re going to backslide,” Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, division director of infectious diseases at UAB, said. “All of the gains that we’ve made in the last two months of extreme sacrifice could be lost very quickly.”
Ivey’s expansion of business reopenings throughout the state now include restaurants, bars, breweries, gyms, fitness centers, salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and nail salons. The amended order also lifts the ban on group sizes of 10 or more people, which include church gatherings and all other non-work-related functions. Entertainment venues, such as night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, bingo halls, indoor children’s play areas, racetracks and theaters are to remain closed.
The relaxed ordinance went into effect on Monday.
The main concern, Marrazzo said, is not the number associated with the gatherings, but with the density of the location of the gatherings.
“The number is kind of arbitrary at some level,” Marrazzo said. “It’s about the number in the context of how small that physical space is. I am concerned about the gatherings, but I am concerned about the gatherings in a place where there’s potential for physical touching or enhanced respiratory transmission.”