MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - In a one-one-one interview on Monday, Gov. Kay Ivey said it was a mistake to have mandated in March that some businesses close because of the pandemic.
The governor and state health officer deemed some businesses “essential” and “nonessential” when the pandemic first hit Alabama with daily cases around 300. Close-contact businesses, including hair salons, gyms and entertainment venues were considered “nonessential.”
“That was a mistake because all businesses are essential,” Ivey said. “So since May, I have absolutely had no conversation about closing any of our businesses because our people deserve to be able to earn a livelihood.”
Ivey said calling some businesses “essential” and “nonessential” was a misnomer that should have not been caused.
“I won’t do it again,” she said.
WSFA 12 News asked the governor if she would put any restrictions in place, for instance, if hospitals could not handle the high number of COVID-19 patients.
“Oh, that’s hypothetical,” Ivey said. “We will have to just take the numbers as they come in and deal with each situation as they develop.”
NUSBAUM: “So there are instances where you would put restrictions back in place?”
IVEY: “No, not necessarily. We just have to see what restrictions are needed. But I’m not gonna close any businesses.”
There is hope in the air as COVID-19 vaccine distributions begin. Ivey broke the news that three locations would receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Alabama Monday. Twelve more locations would receive them Tuesday.
“That is a blessing,” she said. “We need to thank President (Donald) Trump and the staff of medical doctors and research scientists for developing a vaccine so quickly.”
The U.S. Department of Justice dropped a lawsuit on Alabama last week for the conditions in the men’s prisons. This could cost the state millions of dollars. The DOJ had threatened a lawsuit since April of 2019 because they claim the state’s prisons are unconstitutional.
“I’m disappointed with the lawsuit but at the same time it’s just part of a long, ongoing process and we’ll deal with it,” Ivey said. “But at the same time, my plans for building three new prisons are continuing and we are on target.”
Alabama is moving forward with plans to build three new mega prison facilities across the state. The current facilities are dilapidated and some state leaders have said new prisons will help with the violence and overcrowding problems.
NUSBAUM: “Do you think that’s the right step when the DOC Commissioner himself as well as other advocates have said there is a culture problem within the DOC?”
IVEY: “Well, we’ve got to fix that too. But having the right kind of facilities that have the right technology and the right space will allow us to do a lot more education and training and mental health treatment etc.”
Ivey said looking ahead to 2021 the state Legislature needs to renew the economic tax incentives and strip away the state’s tax on the stimulus payments and PPP loans people received. The governor issued an emergency proclamation last week to provide tax relief from the CARES Act.
NUSBAUM: “Anything else you are advocating for?”
IVEY: “Well, you have to stay tuned because I’m working with my cabinet and legislative leadership and developing priorities. And we’ll be addressing those in the state of the state.”
Also looking ahead to 2021, some people may announce their bid for governor.
NUSBAUM: “Are you going to run for reelection?”
IVEY: “Oh, boy. We’ve got too much work to do to start even thinking about discussing that. And right now I’m trying to get students back in school and I’m trying to get the vaccine distributed and then into people’s arms. And we’re trying to make progress on the home front.”
NUSBAUM: “Is it on the table?”
IVEY: “Everything is always on the table.”