MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey says she will allow for the reopening of the state’s economy through a phased-in approach starting at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The easing of restrictions comes under a new “Safer at Home” order that runs through May 15, replacing the governor’s stay-at-home order that will be allowed to expire on April 30.
Ivey says the state is encouraging people to stay home and follow good sanitation practices in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that some businesses may reopen with conditions attached.
The news of the economic easing comes despite there being more than 6,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama and at least 241 virus-related deaths.
Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris acknowledge Alabama has not reached White House and CDC benchmarks for a full reopening.
Under the new order, businesses may open subject to sanitation and social-distancing guidelines, though certain higher-risk businesses and activities will remain closed.
All retail stores can reopen subject to a 50 percent occupancy rate limit in addition to social-distancing and sanitation rules.
Beaches will reopen but with a ban on any gatherings of 10 people or more. Beach-goers must maintain 6 feet of separation.
All medical procedures will be allowed to take place 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 safe regulatory boards or public health authorities.
While some things are changing, the are other things that are going to stay the same.
What will stay the same?
Non-work gatherings are still limited to fewer than 10 people with 6 feet of distance between them. “Drive-in” gatherings are still permitted if participants stay in their cars with people from their own households.
For senior citizen centers, regular programming is still suspended except for meals still available through curbside pick-up or delivery.
Educational institutions will still be closed to in-person instruction, except for daytime special activities programs.
Child day care facilities are still banned from allowing 12 or more children in a single room.
Hospitals and nursing homes still must implement policies to restrict visitation.
Restaurants, bars and breweries are still limited to take-out, curbside or delivery, though the governor said she is working with different state boards and associations to determine when restaurants and close-contact services can reopen.
Entertainment venues, athletic facilities and activities, close-contact service providers will remain closed.
Alabama was one of the last states without a confirmed case of COVID-19, but that changed by mid-March and the cases and deaths have been climbing ever since.
A Montgomery County resident who traveled outside the state returned and, after not feeling, was tested for COVID-19. The results came back positive on March 13, marking the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Alabama. That person was hospitalized but later released.
Gov. Kay Ivey declares a state of emergency.
By the end of the day, there were six confirmed cases across the state.
The state gets more aggressive with its efforts to combat COVID-19. Gov. Kay Ivey, along with the Alabama Department of Public Health, issued a health order that puts statewide restrictions on restaurants, hospital visitors, day cares, beaches and more.
Preschools and childcare centers are also ordered to close.
By the end of the day, there are 78 confirmed cases across the state.
Twelve days passed from the time Alabama reported its first confirmed case to that of a death as a result of COVID-19. The victim was a Jackson County resident.
By the end of this day, the state had confirmed 386 cases of COVID-19.
Ivey says the state’s public school students will not return to their classrooms for the 2020 academic year.
The state is now dealing with at least 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Gov. Kay Ivey orders 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.
By the end of this day more than 600 people have tested positive and at least three people have died.
April 3 and 4
By this point, more than 30 states have issued stay-at-home orders to stem the spread of the respiratory virus. Gov. Ivey, under pressure for resisting such a move, follows suit with an order that went into effect the day after her announcement.
“I want to get straight to the point,” Ivey said while opening a news conference on the crisis. “Effective tomorrow [Saturday] at 5 p.m. I am mandating a stay at home order for the entire state.”
The order was to be in effect through at least April 30.
Now three weeks into the state’s pandemic fight, there are 1,454 confirmed cases and 21 deaths.
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and the Alabama Small Business Commission’s Emergency Task Force, a subcommittee of business leaders and members of the Alabama Legislature, announce their recommendations to the governor on how to reopen the state’s economy.
Ivey responds with thanks and says she will share the recommendations with her Coronavirus Task Force, but says reopening economy won’t be a quick or simple process.
“We will need to see declining cases, and stronger testing, over at least 14-days to make certain we don’t see a return in the spike up of the infection,” Ivey said about what is essential.