Gov. Kay Ivey took the first step toward reopening Alabama’s economy Tuesday as deaths, hospitalizations and new cases of COVID-19 trended downward. In announcing a new “Safer at Home” order, effective Thursday at 5 p.m., Ivey urged residents to maintain safeguards against the coronavirus.
“Alabamians, let me be abundantly clear, the threat of COVID-19 isn’t over,” she said. “We’re still seeing the virus spread, and our people are susceptible to the infection. Folks, we must continue to be vigilant in our social distancing both today and for the foreseeable future.”
The new public health order allowed all retail stores to reopen at 50% capacity; opened Alabama’s beaches; and allowed elective medical procedures to resume. Entertainment venues, churches, athletic facilities and close-contact businesses, such as hair salons, remain closed. Restaurants continue to be limited to pick-up, delivery and curbside service.
The order extends the prohibition against non-work gatherings of 10 or more people through May 15. It also requires residents to maintain a 6-foot distance between people, whether at work, on the beach or in retail businesses.
During Tuesday’s press conference, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris expressed optimism about Alabama’s COVID-19 trajectory but noted the state did not meet all the criteria outlined by the Trump Administration for reopening.
“We feel good about the criteria related to symptoms (and) the criteria related to hospital capacity,” Harris said. “We have yet to meet the 14-day sustained decline that is recommended in those guidelines. I would say, for that reason, we are not proceeding to the full Phase 1 opening consistent with the White House plan.”