Gov. Ivey Eases COVID-19-Related Restrictions on Businesses, Stores and Beaches

Gov. Kay Ivey (Source: Hal Yeager, Alabama Governor’s Office)

If you’re ready to go to the beaches in Alabama, you’ll get your chance Thursday night, and you can even do some shopping. But you’ll still be getting your restaurant meals through take-out or from a delivery driver.

In general, residents of Alabama are still encouraged to stay at home but not required to, under the new “Safer at Home” order issued by Gov. Kay Ivey during a press conference Tuesday morning at the State Capitol.

The new order is in effect through May 15. It replaces the “Safe at Home” order that expires Thursday at 5 p.m.

Among the changes:

  • All retail stores may now reopen but may only allow half of their original capacity inside the store and must enforce rules such as social distancing and proper sanitation.
  • Other service and manufacturing businesses may also reopen subject to the same social distancing and sanitation guidelines. Some higher-risk businesses, however, will remain closed.
  • Beaches will reopen, but with the six-foot separation rule enforced and no gatherings of 10 or more. Beach cities and counties will enforce this.
  • Elective medical procedures are now permitted again, as hospitals and other medical facilities have the capacity to deal with current COVID-19 treatment needs. These procedures will be subject to rules set forth by state regulatory boards and may change or be prohibited by order of State Health Office Dr. Scott Harris.

But many restrictions from Gov. Ivey’s original order remain:

  • Restaurants, bars and breweries are still prohibited from allowing dining inside their facilities and must continue to serve diners through take-out or delivery.
  • Entertainment facilities — nightclubs, bowling centers, gaming facilities, race tracks and the like will remain closed.
  • Athletic facilities such as gyms, fitness facilities and recreation centers will remain closed.
  • Gatherings that are not work-related are still limited to 10 people or fewer with the six-foot rule in effect. This also applies to church services and funerals. “Drive-in” gatherings are permitted, provided that people stay in their cars, with only people from their own households inside the cars.
  • Senior citizen centers will stay closed except for meal service through delivery or curbside pickup.
  • In-person instruction in schools will still be prohibited, except for special daytime activity programs. Day care facilities for children are still limited to 12 children in a room.
  • Barber shops, hair salons and similar businesses that require close contact between workers and customers will still be closed.
  • Hospitals, nursing homes and similar medical facilities still will restrict visitors.

Here’s a chart of what the new order covers, compared to the order expiring Thursday.

Ivey also encouraged people to wear face masks when out in public areas and urged Alabamians to minimize travel.

Despite the relaxing of some restrictions, Ivey warned residents to keep their guard up.

“Let me be abundantly clear. The threat of COVID-19 is not over. We’re still seeing the virus spread, and all of our people are susceptible to the infection. The greatest disservice for the people who might be watching me here today is to think that by lifting the comprehensive health restrictions, this might be a sign that there’s no longer a threat of COVID-19. Folks, we must continue to be vigilant in our social distancing both today and for the foreseeable future,” Ivey said.

Here’s a chart of what the new order covers, compared to the order expiring Thursday.