Restaurant dining rooms, salons and barber shops, and athletic facilities join the list of businesses that may reopen today, and groups of more than 10 people are allowed to gather.
But things are not going to look, or operate, they way they used to – at least not yet. The state’s amended Safer-at-Home order is in effect as of today and, while it allows more businesses to reopen, it requires people to maintain social distances of six feet or more between themselves and others.
In Birmingham, the city’s ordinance requiring people to wear masks or other face coverings also is in force through Friday.
Health and government officials issued cautions Sunday asking people to remain vigilant to avoid contracting the virus that has killed 393 and sickened 9,889 Alabamians to date.
“When it comes to the reopening of Alabama, we must choose data over dates,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said in an open letter to the city. “Here’s the reality: the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in our state. In fact, they increased by 20% in Alabama last week.”
He said it “pained” him to see businesses close under the pandemic, but he urged people to continue to stay home if they can and to wear face coverings, wash their hands and stay socially distant if they must go out.
“There are families now experiencing their first Mother’s Day without mom. It’s for those grieving families, and for those strong women like my own mother who are currently at risk, that we make personal sacrifices for the wellness of our community. It’s the least we can do for those who have given us so much.”
Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson, along with UAB President Ray Watts, issued another letter to “urge extreme caution.”
“According to the data, COVID-19 is still very much present and spreading across Alabama, as our state continues to experience an increase in cases,” the letter stated.
“Make no mistake, you and the people you love are still safer at home. If you can work, see friends, worship and do other activities virtually, do. There are still great benefits to avoiding others.”
They reiterated the importance of social distancing, saying, “The social distancing we have done in our communities has been difficult, but it has worked. Thank you. However, that sacrifice could be quickly wasted if we do not stay vigilant. Steps backward would have serious health and economic consequences far worse than what we have seen in Alabama.”
Even the latest statewide order opening more of Alabama businesses underscores that people are “safer at home” and encouraged social distancing and thorough hygiene practices.
Here is a synopsis of what has changed in the Safer-at-Home order and what remains the same from the previous order.
Removing 10-person limit. Still required to maintain 6 feet of distance between persons not from same household.
Restaurants, bars and breweries
May open with limited table seating, 6 feet between tables and subject to additional sanitation rules and guidelines.
Athletic facilities (such as fitness centers and commercial gyms)
May open subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines. Specified athletic activities are still not allowed.
Close-contact service providers (such as barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, tattoo services)
May open subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines.
Open with no limit on gatherings. Must maintain 6 feet of separation.
What’s Staying the Same
Encouraged to stay home and follow good sanitation practices.
Businesses may open subject to sanitation and social-distancing guidelines; certain higher-risk businesses and activities remain closed.
All retail stores open subject to 50% occupancy rate, social-distancing and sanitation rules.
Entertainment venues (such as night clubs, theaters and bowling alleys)
Allowed unless prohibited in the future by the State Health Officer to preserve resources necessary to diagnose and treat COVID-19; providers must follow COVID-19-related rules and guidance from state regulatory boards or public health authorities.
Senior citizen centers
Regular programming still suspended except meals still available through curbside pick-up or delivery.
Still closed to in-person instruction (except for daytime special activities programs).
Child day care facilities
Still must not allow 12 or more children in a room.
Hospitals and nursing homes
Still must implement policies to restrict visitation.