Gov. Ivey downgrades to safer-at-home order, some businesses to reopen

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey made a major announcement on Tuesday, April 28, during a press conference as the state neared the end of its current stay-at-home order expected to expire Thursday, April 30.

Instead of renewing the stay-at-home order, the governor decided to downgrade to a safer-at-home order, which will allow certain businesses to start reopening starting on Thursday at 5 p.m. when the safer-at-home order goes into effect.

“While maintaining focus on our personal health, it’s now time that we also focus on our economic health, and this too will be a thoughtful and methodical process,” Ivey said. “I’m pleased to say that because of the efforts during these unprecedented days, we can roll back many of the restrictions that have been placed upon certain social gatherings and businesses.”

Ivey said retail businesses will be allowed to reopen with 50 percent occupancy and must not allow people to congregate within 6 feet of each other.

She also said beaches can open, but local governing bodies will help enforce social distancing by not allowing gatherings of more than 10 persons and that 6 feet is kept between individuals.

In addition to those two announcements, the governor also said elective medical procedures can resume.

While those updates have been put in place, some businesses will still have to remain the same.

Restaurants, bars and breweries are still limited to takeout and curbside or delivery options, hospitals and nursing homes must keep visitation restrictions in place and child care facilities must allow no more than 12 children in the room to proper social distancing.

Businesses to remain closed include entertainment venues, close-contact businesses and athletic/workout facilities.

Ivey said she is going to be working with the state cosmetology board, the Alabama restaurant association and other boards and associations to address every business currently on the list of higher-risk businesses still closed.

“We are not in the perfect world we want to be, however, the people of Alabama are doing the hard things to ensure we can get back to our routines just as soon as possible, and today, we’re taking another step in that direction,” Ivey said. “This will be a multi-phase reopening of our state.”

Churches will also remain closed for the time being, but a three-phased approach to reopen them will start soon according to Ivey’s pastor Dr. Jay Wolf.

“Faith is clearly a part of the thread of the people of Alabama and getting back to worshipping service is essential,” Ivey said. “However, getting back to these services must be done with great concern.”

Ivey said she plans to address beauty shops and restaurants very soon after meeting with people on those boards this week or early next week.

Graphic by Jamie Dawkins

The governor’s safer-at-home order comes with 6,750 confirmed cases across the state right now, including 319 in Shelby County.

“Let me be abundantly clear, the threat of COVID-19 is not over,” Ivey said. “We’re still seeing the virus spread and all of our people are susceptible. The greatest disservice is to think that by lifting the comprehensive health restrictions, this must be a sign there is 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.”

That 319 total for the county marked just a one-case jump in the last 24 hours, something the area has experienced three times in less than two weeks now.

The county has now increased to 10 deaths, while 3,331 have been tested. That’s 330 more tests looked at by the ADPH in the county in the last 24 hours with only one more positive test. The state is now at 242 deaths with 75,903 tested. That marked more than 1,000 new tests looked at statewide.

When it comes to the age group of those infected with the novel coronavirus, 71.62 percent are between the ages of 19 and 64, but 78.1 percent of the deaths are from those 65 years or older.

Ivey said that you are still encouraged to exercise personal responsibility in slowing down the spread of the novel coronavirus by minimizing activity out of the home, especially if you are vulnerable.

She is also urging people to wear face masks when they do leave the home and to practice common sense when it comes to hygiene.

Businesses that are allowed to reopen are encouraged to be innovative in making the work place safe with CDC guidelines, and teleworking is still encouraged if possible.

“Employers should take reasonable steps for employees to avoid gatherings of 10 persons or more, to practice social distancing and make strong efforts to disinfect their office space,” she said.

Non-work gatherings of 10 people or more that can’t keep 6 feet of distance between one another will be prohibited under the safer-at-home order.

Ivey said she no longer believes the hospitals will see an overwhelming amount of ICU patients, and even though the number of confirmed cases hasn’t gone down drastically each day, it is remaining at a consistent level and not getting out of control.

Updated guidelines can be found here.