Light at the End of the Tunnel for JeffCo Entertainment Venues

Jefferson County Health Department logo. Source: Jefferson County Department of Health.

The Jefferson County Department of Health order that banned the opening of entertainment venues is set to expire at midnight Saturday, June 6.

The county will then fall under the statewide order issued on May 21 by the state health officer. That order includes rules for entertainment venues, including social distancing, limited occupancy rates, sanitation requirements and use of facial masks by employees.

Though the order prohibiting operation of entertainment venues will expire Saturday night, unincorporated areas of Jefferson County will remain under a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday enacted the curfew to thwart violent and destructive gatherings in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd of Minneapolis.

The county curfew runs until Tuesday, June 9, when the commission reassembles in committee.

Entertainment venues include bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing centers, tourist attractions – including museums and planetariums – race tracks, commercial or public playgrounds, adult entertainment venues, casinos and bingo halls.

The term entertainment venue does not include playgrounds operated by educational institutions and child day care facilities. Playgrounds operated by educational institutions and child day care facilities are covered by, and subject to, paragraph 13 of the state Department of Public Health order.

Entertainment venues also do not include “night clubs,” which are covered by, and subject to, paragraph 18 of the state health order.

The Jefferson County Department of Health issued an order on May 22 that kept certain entertainment venues closed. At the time of that order, Jefferson County was seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases, according to a release today by the health department. In the week before and after May 22, Jefferson County saw some of its highest numbers of new cases per day since the beginning of the pandemic.

More recently, JCDH said in its release, “we have seen some decrease in new cases and hospitalizations.”

In its release today, the county health department said operators of entertainment venues need to carefully consider whether they can implement the rules in the state order and follow the additional guidelines provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health before deciding whether or not to open.

With rare exception, people visiting entertainment venues should wear face coverings if there is potential of close contact with people not from their household. Children younger than 2 years old should not wear face coverings.

According to Section 9 of the state health order, entertainment venues are to comply with the following rules:

Social distancing

— Employees shall not knowingly allow patrons or guests to congregate within six feet of a person from another household.

— Employees shall take reasonable steps to prevent people from congregating in lobby areas, break rooms and other common areas.

Emergency maximum occupancy rate. Indoor and enclosed entertainment venues shall limit occupancy to 50 percent of the normal occupancy load as determined by the fire marshal. Outdoor venues or those not assigned a normal occupancy load by the fire marshal shall limit occupancy as required to comply with the social distancing requirements of this paragraph.

Facial coverings. Each employee shall wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times while in regular interaction with clients or guests.

Sanitation. An entertainment venue shall take reasonable steps, where practicable, to regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.

In addition to complying with the requirements of this paragraph, entertainment venues are strongly encouraged to read and implement the Alabama Department of Public Health’s “Guidelines for Entertainment Venues and Tourist Attractions,” available here.