Alabama to close ‘nonessential’ businesses to fight spread of COVID-19
Alabama surpassed 600 confirmed coronavirus cases Friday
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey is ordering several types of “nonessential” businesses to be closed until April 17 as the state expands its efforts to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective Saturday at 5 p.m. all non-work related gatherings of 10 people or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. Employers are to take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.
The following nonessential businesses, venues, and activities are to be closed to non-employees or not take place. These businesses and activities fall into one of four broad categories.
- Night clubs
- Bowling alleys
- Concert venues
- Theaters, auditoriums and performing art centers
- Tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums)
- Indoor children’s play areas
- Adult entertainment venues
- Bingo halls
- Venues operated by social clubs
- Fitness centers and commercial gyms
- Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
- Yoga, barre and spin facilities
- Spectator sports
- Sports that involved interaction with another person closer than 6 feet
- Activities that require use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
- Activities on commercial or public playground equipment
- Close-contact service providers as follows:
- Hair salons
- Waxing salons
- Threading salons
- Nail salons and spas
- Body-art facilities and tattoo services
- Tanning salons
- Massage-therapy establishment and massage services
- Furniture and home-furnishing stores
- Clothing, shoe and clothing-accessory stores
- Jewelry, luggage and leather goods store
- Department stores
- Sporting goods stores
- Book, craft and music stores
Essentially, the order blankets most retail, entertainment, and sporting venues, including gyms. Previously released health orders also apply to restaurants and bars. Gun stores can remain open.
Ivey said if the business is not on the list, it’s not included in the new order. Violations of the emergency order can result in fines of up to $500, the governor added.
[DETAILS: Previous Health Order]
[DETAILS: Recommendations related to day cares]
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the closures will remain in effect through April 17 at 5 p.m.
Harris added that all elective dental, medical and surgical procedures are to be postponed until further notice unless
Ivey, who pointed out she was both a teacher and specifically an economics teacher," said keeping businesses alive weighs heavily on her.
“Government can choke business," she warned. "We can’t print enough money in Washington, D.C. to bring a dead business back.”
The expansion comes just two weeks after the state’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus. Now, there are more than 600 people confirmed to have tested positive. At least three people have died, though the number could be higher as ADPH continues to investigate.
“We have three deaths that we have posted on the website,” Harris said. “We have a handful more, and I think the total is about eight. But that changes a little bit from minute to minute that we’re investigating. The reason it takes a few moments to get that information out is that we need to actually confirm that the death is related to COVID-19. It’s certainly possible for someone to die of a different cause, and yet, perhaps they’ve had a positive test at some point.”
Friday morning, the Alabama Department of Public Health released the latest on COVID-19 cases across the state. A total of 4,755 people have been tested.
Harris said at least 10 percent of COVID-19 cases are now hospitalized. Half of those are in ICU, and half of those in ICU are on ventilators. He added that ADPH is aware of more hospitalized cases that await testing and confirmation.
Asked about Alabama’s cases growing at faster rates than states like Florida and Georgia, Harris said he was concerned.
“I think that part of it has to do with our rollout of testing, and we have sort of increased at an increasing rate, how much testing capacity we have. So, as we test more and more places, we do find larger numbers that show up quickly,” he explained. “At the same time, I think we believe there is disease transmission going on and that there are more people becoming infected.”
Montgomery County has 18 confirmed cases, Elmore County has 12 confirmed cases and Autauga County has six confirmed cases. The latest numbers for each county are available online from ADPH.
ADPH confirmed the state’s first death due to the coronavirus Wednesday evening. The patient was a resident of Jackson County. The other two patients were residents of Madison and Lauderdale counties.
RESOURCES FOR ASSISTANCE:
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State officials opened a toll-free number for people who develop symptoms and need to be tested. For more on how to get tested, you can call 1-888-264-2256. This is not a medical helpline.
On Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey and other state officials announced Alabama public school students won’t return to classrooms this school year. She instructed each of the state’s public K-12 schools to implement a plan to complete the 2019-2020 school year using “alternate methods of instruction."
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