With the number of cases of Covid-19 increasing, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a statewide public health order on Thursday that places wide restrictions and prohibitions on businesses, as well as closing beaches.
"Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact," said Ivey. "As of this morning, 68 individuals have tested positive for the Coronavirus in Alabama. While I am pleased that many of our citizens are self-regulating and are practicing social distancing, we want to ensure that Alabama is doing our part to flatten the curve."
Effective at 5 p.m. today, all beaches will be closed in the state. The order defines beaches as "the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points."
"Closing Alabama beaches is not a simple decision but one that I came to with the consultation of our elected officials along the coast and members of my administration," Ivey said in a release. "After many rounds of conversations with local leaders, in which we discussed several options, I have decided to close beach access in any form. Since we do not want to promote social gatherings, keeping the beaches open sends the wrong message to the public. At this moment, the safety and wellbeing of Alabamians is paramount."
The order prohibits on-premise consumption of food or drink at any restaurant, bar, brewery or similar establishment. Owners of those types of businesses still have the option of offering to-go ordering or delivery, as long as the six-foot social distancing guidelines is followed. That goes into effect at 5 p.m. today as well.
Ivey also prohibited gatherings of 25 or more people, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain the six-foot guideline. That applies to non-work related gatherings, Ivey clarified in a statement Friday
Other orders include:
- Preschools and childcare centers will be closed effective at close of school or business today. This shall not apply to licensed childcare centers that provide services exclusively to employees with: State and Local Governments, First Responders (including EMS and Fire Services), Law Enforcement, Hospitals, Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities), End Stage Renal Disease Treatment Centers, Pharmacies and grocery stores.
- Effective immediately, all Hospitals and Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.
- All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.
"We understand that the health orders issued will be a hardship on Alabamians. We must, first and foremost, protect the health and safety of our citizens. This decision has not been made lightly and will help to prevent the spread of this virus," said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.