File / The Outlook

Alabama has issued a new public health order as of Friday morning to close more “non-essential” businesses effective 5 p.m Saturday. The order will be in place through April 17.

These businesses include places such as salons and spas, gyms and fitness centers, retail stores and more. There are four categories of these businesses being deemed non-essential, including entertainment, close contact service, athletic facilities and retail.

Gov. Kay Ivey said this decision was not made lightly but was made to protect Alabamians.

“If the business involves the operators or customers being closely with each other and touching one another, they're highly likely to transmit the virus,” Ivey said.

Ivey also said this decision was made to keep the economy going as much as possible.

“You have to consider keep the economy going as much as possible," Ivey continued. "When a business closes down, it’s almost impossible to bring it back to life. If we all do our part through April 17, we will see this situation much improved.”

The businesses that must close include night clubs, bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, tourist attractions including museums and planetariums, racetracks, indoor children's play areas, adult entertainment venues, casinos, bingo halls, venues operated by social clubs; athletic facilities and activities including fitness centers, commercial gyms, spas and public or commercial swimming pools, spectator sports, sports that involve interaction with another person of closer than 6 feet, activities that require use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment, activities on commercial or public playground equipment; close contact services such as barber shops, hair, waxing, threading and nail salons and spas, body art facilities and tattoo shops, tanning salons, massage therapy establishments and massage services; retail stores including furniture and home furnishing stores, clothing, shoe and accessory stores, jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores, department stores, sporting good stores and book, craft and music stores. 

Gun stores are not included. If it is not on the list, it is not closed, Ivey said.

This is not a shelter-in-place order and Ivey said she does not have any intent of issuing such at this time.

The new order also mandates against any non-work-related gathering of 10 persons or more or any non-work-related gathering that cannot maintain 6 feet between persons. The previous order issued last week limited these gatherings to no more than 25 people.

Public health officer Dr. Scott Harris said employers running businesses that are still open should continue to take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.

“It is a decision that creates winners and losers in a sense but we have to make the decisions on what is essential and non-essential," Harris said. "We looked very carefully at what other states have done and what environments transmission of the disease was more likely to occur. Based of the best info we have, this was the most comprehensive list to keep people working and keep everyone safe."