MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Thursday that more types of businesses and events can restart despite an increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the state.
“We cannot sustain a delayed way of life as we search for a vaccine,” the governor said of her decision, adding that steps have been taken in the last couple of months to slow the pandemic’s spread.
While cases have climbed, Ivey noted she’s confident there are enough ventilators.
Ivey’s decision to move the state into a new phase of economic recovery comes with the expiration of one health order that is being replaced by another.
The “Amended Safer at Home” order greenlights the reopening of entertainment venues, child care facilities, athletic activities, and educational institutions and goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m.
Under the new order, arcades, theaters and bowling alleys can reopen. Athletic activities can restart May 23, though competition is suspended until June 15. Education institutions can restart June 1. And child day care facilities and summer camps are approved.
Each is still subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines. All other restrictions remain the same as part of the governor’s previous order.
“If things don’t get worse, and I certainly hope and pray they don’t, then we’re going to continue putting personal responsibility on each and every individual citizen, Ivey said. "Personal responsibility also extends to the store owner, the summer camp operator, the hair stylist, the youth sports coach, and pastors. It takes all of us, y’all, being vigilant, and adhering to these social distancing guidelines in order to stop the spread of this disease.”
Ivey said there are still concerns and said that’s why some restrictions, such as not allowing visitors into nursing homes and hospitals for most scenarios, remains in place.
Ivey’s previous order, which will expire Friday, eased the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings and business openings. It eliminated the 10-person cap on non-work gatherings, effectively allowing for churches to restart in-person services. It also allowed for restaurants to reopen with limited seating, and close-contact businesses like gyms and salons can operate with social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines.
The state has seen a growing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, particularly in the Montgomery area, which officials have said could be the result of more testing or a spike in the illness.
When Ivey announced the loosened restrictions on May 8, Alabama had 9,375 confirmed cases and 383 confirmed deaths. There had been 111,000 tests conducted.
As of Thursday, a span of 12 days since the announcement, Alabama has 13,058 confirmed cases and 528 confirmed deaths. There have been 171,000 tests conducted.