Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) issued an update on Friday to the statewide health order to aid in Alabama’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Effective today, all non-work related gatherings of 25 persons or more or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent 6-foot distance between persons are prohibited. The release states employers shall take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.
The updated order also expands the availability of child daycare in the state as long as certain guidelines are followed and includes clarifying language regarding senior citizen centers and schools.
“As our state works in overdrive to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, we are making decisions based on the best information we have in the moment," Ivey said in a release. "I have no doubt that as this situation rapidly unfolds, decisions will need to be evaluated and amended.
“(Thursday's) health order was issued to be as comprehensive as possible to combat the spread of the virus and to ensure the state was doing everything within its authority to protect the people of Alabama."
Ivey said this order was intended to apply to non-work-related gatherings but employers should take all necessary steps to meet the mandated standards for employees and customers.
“In order to keep Alabama going, we must keep Alabama businesses going to the best of our abilities," Ivey said. "I fully support the restrictions of social or recreational gatherings of 25 people or less and strongly encourage individuals to maintain a 6-foot distance."
Ivey said she does not want to slow down the workforce.
“Let me be abundantly clear — I have no intention of slowing down our workforce through unnecessary, burdensome regulations," Ivey said. "We will only be able to mitigate the risk of the virus through the efforts of our hardworking manufacturers that will produce life-sustaining supplies, our truckers who move these goods down the road and our valued retailers that will make them available to our citizens.
“My administration has been given clear instructions to do everything possible to ensure the continuity of government while being flexible and responsible to the needs of our state. I ask for the support of my fellow Alabamians as we work through these challenging days together.”
State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said it's important for people to take their health seriously.
"Alabamians must cooperate, understand their actions affect other people and take seriously the need to protect health and safety because COVID-19 is a deadly virus," Harris said.
The updated order states the following be implemented statewide:
• Effective today, all non-work related gatherings of25 persons or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. Employers shall take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.
• Effective March 19 at 5 p.m. all beaches shall be closed. For purposes of this section, the term "beach" means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.
• Effective Friday, March 20, all regular programs at senior citizen centers shall be ended except that Senior Citizen Centers and their partners are urged to assure that their clients continue to receive needed meals via curbside pick-up or delivery.
• Effective today, the following shall be closed: In-person instruction or classes at all schools, public and private, including but not limited to: elementary, secondary, postsecondary, technical, or specialty schools, and colleges and universities.
This order is not intended to prevent any employers from making continued necessary staffing decisions. Employers are authorized to advise employees to work from home or maintain flexible work schedules. If working from home is not feasible, the employee should practice social distancing, maintaining consistent six-foot distance between persons, for the duration of this order and follow public health guidelines.
• This order shall not apply to daytime special activities programs provided by local boards of education for children, ages 6 through 12 as of March 13 of first responders (including EMS and fire services) and licensed healthcare providers and their essential employees, and essential employees of the following categories of employers: state and local governments, law enforcement, hospitals, nursing home/long-term care facilities (including assisted living and specialty care assisted living facilities), end stage renal disease treatment centers, pharmacies, and grocery Stores. In these special activities programs, 12 or more children shall not be allowed in any one room at the same time, and operators of these programs are encouraged to use enhanced sanitation practices consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health.
• Facilities providing child daycare, including any child daycare facility described in Ala. Code § 38-7-2, at which 12 or more children are in a room or other enclosed or separated space at the same time. Center employees are encouraged to use enhanced sanitation and social distancing practices consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health. This order does not change the minimum standards for daycare promulgated by the Alabama Department of Human Resources, except 12 or more children shall not be allowed in a room or other enclosed or separated space at the same time.
• Effective immediately, all hospitals and nursing home/long-term care facilities (including assisted living and specialty care assisted living facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors, as defined by the facility, and non-essential healthcare personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.
• Effective immediately, all elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed.
• Effective March 19 at 5 p.m., all restaurants, bars, breweries or similar establishments shall not permit on-premises consumption of food or drink. Such establishments may continue to offer food for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols, including maintaining a consistent 6-foot distance between persons, are followed. Such establishments are strongly encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pick-up of food.
Hospital food service areas are excluded from this order provided they have their own social distancing plan.