No Party, No Disco, No Fooling Around. State Closes All but Essential Businesses and Services.

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

Gov. Kay Ivey today announced intensified efforts to control the coronavirus outbreak in Alabama, with the state health officer prohibiting all non-work gatherings of 10 or more or of any size where people can’t stay 6 feet apart. The new order goes into effect starting at 5 p.m. Saturday and is expected to remain in effect until 5 p.m. April 17.

The new order is from the state health officer and follows the lead of other authorities that have mandated a wide range of businesses and activities deemed non-essential most close or not operate.

In announcing the order today, Ivey said: “Rather than shutting the entire state down, I propose a different solution. Today, I join Dr. (Scott) Harris in announcing a specific list of non-essential businesses that will close until April 17. If you can stay home, you are safer at home.”

The statement said the closures will be reevaluated before they expire and could be extended if necessary.

Besides shutting down entertainment venues, athletic facilities, close-contact service providers and most retail stores, Ivey’s order closes all public and private beaches. In-person schooling from pre-K up to university level is shut down, although “daytime special activities programs provided by local boards of education for children, ages 6 through 12” are allowed. Also exempt are a selection of first responders, health care providers, government and grocery stories that are involved in either dealing with medical concerns or providing essential services during the pandemic.

Although the new order supersedes previous orders given by health officials in Jefferson and Mobile counties, county authorities are permitted to enact even more stringent rules.

Ivey remains unwilling to issue a statewide shelter in place order as some states have done and as cities in Alabama including Birmingham and Tuscaloosa have done. A Washington Post story today analyzed data from Johns Hopkins University showing that while Alabama has far fewer confirmed cases of coronavirus than New York and California, the numbers are rising at a faster rate here than in California and almost as fast as in New York.

The state health officer’s full statement can be found here.