1 year ago

Ainsworth, Garrett unveil plan to reopen Alabama’s economy — Many businesses would open immediately

Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth is recommending that many businesses in the state, including all restaurants and retailers, should be allowed to open immediately if they employ proper safety precautions to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

The recommendations were made as part of a plan put together by the lieutenant governor’s subcommittee on reopening Alabama’s economy during a Friday press conference.

The full report, which comes in at over 150 pages, can be viewed here.

The lieutenant governor believes that Alabama’s retail stores and restaurants should be allowed to open immediately. He stood in front of placards while making the announcement that read, “Smaller stores, smaller risks.”

Bars would not be able to reopen immediately, according to State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), who chaired the subcommittee and spoke alongside Ainsworth at the press conference.

Ainsworth’s group is also recommending that barbershops, nail salons and other close contact businesses be allowed to open immediately if they take strict precautions such as mandating all employees wear masks and customers wait in their cars until the time of their appointment.

The plan has been presented to Governor Kay Ivey, who ultimately controls when Alabama’s economy will reopen.

Katie Boyd Britt, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), is a member of the subcommittee. In a statement, she said, “BCA is proud to be a part of the great work being done by the Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force.”

“The recommendations made in the Reopen Alabama Responsibly plan are a critical first step in revitalizing Alabama’s economy and getting citizens back to work in a safe and responsible manner,” Britt continued.

UPDATE 1:00 p.m.

“Obviously this virus is deadly, it’s dangerous, but our committee believes there is a way to safely reopen the Alabama economy and get people working responsibly,” Ainsworth said in his remarks.

Among many other safety suggestions, only 50% of a retail business’ fire capacity would be allowed inside at one time.

In restaurants, the topline suggestion is that all tables be placed at least six feet apart and no groups of more than six customers may be seated together.

The subcommittee focused exclusively on the State of Alabama’s business community, so the report does not include suggestions for when to reopen schools or churches.

The report does not apply to every business in the state, but it does include safety precautions for each area of the economy that it recommends reopening. Five precautions apply across all sectors, per the lieutenant governor’s office:

  • Strictly monitoring the health of employees and placing any employee who displays symptoms of COVID-19 on sick leave.
  • Limiting the number of people allowed inside the place of business at one time.
  • Increasing the frequency of all sanitizing and cleaning measures and requiring additional sanitizing measures for certain circumstances.
  • Enforcing social distancing in all areas of the place of business, specifically high-traffic areas where markings will be required to ensure safe spacing at all times.
  • Establishing measures to limit interaction between employees and customers.

“Some businesses may say that they don’t believe they can implement that,” Garrett said of the safety standards his group’s plan would require.

“Then they will not be able to operate,” he advised.

Both Ainsworth and Garrett mentioned at different points that enforcing the safety measures proposed in their plan would take a combination of law enforcement, trade associations, local government, the public and a willingness to compromise by business owners.

Garrett said the subcommittee had spoken with thousands of business owners across the state. His takeaway was that “as bad as they want to open, they want to open safely.”

“They want to protect their employees, they want to protect their families… they certainly don’t want to infect anyone else,” Garrett added.

Ainsworth said he had gone over the report in detail with Ivey earlier on Friday morning. When asked about the reception Ivey had given the report, Ainsworth said she “was very encouraged and thankful to everyone.”

Ivey has said she will take into consideration the information from Ainsworth’s subcommittee, Alabama’s congressional delegation and a separate executive committee that reports directly to her before making a final decision on the economy.

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.

Garrett explained that were two main challenges in reopening the state’s economy.

The first is the state’s capacity to test for COVID-19.

“We understand there is a nationwide shortage of our ability to test,” commented Garrett, who said he and the subcommittee supports all efforts by the Alabama Department of Public Health to increase testing.

The second challenge is Alabama’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves.

“It will certainly be a challenge for us,” Garrett admitted, adding that the report includes ideas for how Alabama businesses could contribute to alleviating this shortage.

When Ainsworth took the podium he began by talking about Alabama’s coronavirus numbers. The rate of increase for new COVID-19 patients has fallen in recent days.

“The numbers fell because of the actions the people of Alabama took,” Ainsworth said of slowing the growth.

The lieutenant governor relayed his belief that the leadership of Ivey and State Health Officer Scott Harris has gotten the Yellowhammer State to the point where he can now recommend opening many businesses.

The subcommittee report also recommended that many elective medical and health services should be able to resume on May 1, such as dentists, optometrists and physical therapists. The report detailed extensive safety precautions for those facilities, such as no patients being allowed in waiting rooms.

Ainsworth said members of his committee had talked extensively with the relevant medical associations and received guarantees that it was possible for certain medical providers to safely provide their services.

Next, the subcommittee recommended that childcare services be opened immediately, with the stipulation that only 11 children be allowed in a facility during any one time.

Further, the report recommended that entertainment venues and gaming facilities like racetracks, museums, planetariums, casinos and bingo halls be allowed to open on May 1, as well as exercise venues such as gyms.

Safety guidelines for all of these respective establishments were included in the full report.

The task force also sees a viable path for public beaches and youth athletic activities to return in mid May, as long as extensive safeguards are put in place.

The group provided further safety recommendations for pharmacies, real estate agents, manufactures and farmers, all of whom have been operating in some capacity during the shutdown and would be slightly revised if the guidance of the subcommittee is followed.

Ainsworth and Garett noted that, as of now, they think businesses like movie theatres and concert venues should remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Governor Ivey had noted in her press conference earlier this week that she was planning to sit down with Dr. Harris during the last week of April to formalize the state’s plan for the economy.

To act on Ainsworth’s suggestions, she would have to move up that time table.

“We’re giving her recommendations… we’ll let her make the decision,” said Ainsworth.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

7 hours ago

Huntsville City Schools will go on with its vaccination clinic for minors without parental consent

Americans have been bombarded with requests, pleas, shaming and excoriations about how you must get vaccinated.

I bought in, and I think I may have even jumped the line accidentally. I also have a three-year-old, and I don’t envision a scenario where I rush him out to get a vaccine. If he were 14, 18 or 24, I wouldn’t pressure him to get vaccinated. If he were over 18, what could I do?

But if he were 14? That’s a no from me.

Schools in Alabama disagree, and at least one school system doesn’t care what you think.

Madison, Birmingham and Huntsville schools have all taken up the task of vaccinating your kids even though doctors, pharmacies and Wal-Mart have vaccines readily available.

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In the coverage of the Huntsville vaccinations, the Alabama Media Group article specifically states that Huntsville City Schools will not require parental consent for those over 14.

Students under 14 must have a parent or guardian accompany them for the vaccine, according to the announcement on the Huntsville schools website. Everyone receiving the vaccine must present a legal form of identification including a driver’s license, passport, non-drivers ID, or a birth certificate. Participants must sign a consent form prior to receiving the vaccine and must register online in advance to receive the vaccine.

To put it simply — your 14-year-old can decide to take an experimental vaccine without your knowledge.

This is a betrayal of parents by Alabama schools.

They don’t care.

Keep in mind that this is happening as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still looking at the impact of the vaccine on young people.

Even the World Health Organization thinks this is a bad idea.

Some Alabama lawmakers are taking note.

State Senator Sam Givhan appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” and suggested the school systems should hit pause.

Explaining that just vaccinating everyone who shows up without parental consent is just a bad practice, Givhan said, “They don’t have everyone’s full medical history, and they don’t know the unique situations from certain kids. … And I just don’t think the high school should be giving these shots when, you know, you could actually cause someone to have medical problems from this, and then they’ll hide behind their state immunity shield and say you can’t sue them.”

Obviously, it is entirely possible that no children have been vaccinated without parental consent, but how would we know?

Huntsville City Schools seems hell-bent on continuing this. Attempts to speak to the school board we unsuccessful.

The board said in a statement, “We appreciate the invitation. Please see the information below surrounding the vaccine clinic. We have nothing more to add at this time.”

The gist is this: “Sorry, not sorry. We will vaccinate your kids without your permission. What are you going to do about it?”

The answer is people with means are going to either change these schools or flee American schools more than they already have.

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

9 hours ago

Guest opinion: ‘For the People Act’ was always a bad idea

For months, we have been inundated with stories of a federal proposal named by the Democrat Party as the “For the People Act.” Upon closer examination of this mammoth piece of legislation, it should be renamed the “From the People Act” because this legislation clearly seeks to take the election process out of the hands of the American people. As a former probate judge, I see this for what it is – a federal attempt to take over our elections in violation of the United States Constitution.

The number of things wrong with this “Act” could fill a novel, but the most troubling aspects of this historical attempt to alter our elections and change the fabric of our nation include:

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Automatic voter registration — The bill mandates that individuals who have interaction with certain government offices would be automatically registered to vote, but there is no mandate in the bill to only limit that registration to American citizens with the right to vote. Therefore, an individual who goes to the DMV for a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote, even if a felony has eliminated their right to vote or if they are not a citizen of the United States. The same holds true for those interacting with other government offices for assistance with a variety of services. Democrats argue that is not the intent of the provision but still refuse to establish any voter eligibility verification requirements in their proposal.

Funding of political campaigns — This act would divert money collected from fines of corporations from the nation’s general budget to a fund that would be specifically earmarked for the funding of political campaigns. This newly created “Freedom From Influence Fund” will serve as the exclusive source of funds for all federal public financing programs of political candidates. The idea that this bill increases funding for political campaigns from our government’s coffers is sickening. Our government has a gargantuan debt but this bill seeks to collect fines and, rather, than devote them to paying down that debt, diverts them to the accounts of political candidates. Absolutely mindboggling.

The list of problems with this proposal goes on and on and, although the proposal appears to be at a dead end now, it will rear its ugly head again. “We the People” must remain aware of attempts, such as these, to undermine our Democracy and we must oppose such measures at every turn.

Wes Allen currently represents Pike and Dale Counties in the State House of Representatives.

13 hours ago

Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Regions has added Joia M. Johnson to its board of directors, according to a release from the company.

Johnson will serve on the boards of Regions Financial Corp. and its subsidiary, Regions Bank, beginning on July 20.

She arrives at her new responsibilities having recently retired as chief administrative officer, general counsel and corporate secretary for Hanesbrands Inc., a leading apparel manufacturer and marketer.

Charles McCrary, chairman of the Regions Financial Corp. and Regions Bank Boards, believes Johnson’s experience will be a valuable addition to the board.

“Joia’s leadership experience, both at the corporate level and in various board roles, will add greater depth and insights to the Regions Board of Directors as we advance policies and strategies to benefit our customers, associates, communities, and shareholders,” McCrary explained.

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Johnson added that she sees that experience as an asset in assisting the company achieve its vision for growth.

“I believe the breadth of my corporate experience and civic engagement will complement the additional experience and skills reflected throughout Regions’ current directors,” she stated. “As the company focuses not just on continuous improvement but also on long-term, sustainable growth, I am thrilled to become a part of building on Regions’ history of success – while also defining a very bright future for the organization and the people and communities we serve.”

McCrary also noted the alignment between Johnson’s unique skill set and the company’s mission.

“The Regions mission is to make life better for the people we serve, and we accomplish that mission by creating shared value for all of our stakeholders,” he remarked. “With her passion for strong governance and strategic community engagement, Joia will help us build on our progress and reach new heights in the years to come.”

After receiving an undergraduate degree from Duke University, Johnson earned a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

Johnson’s financial services experience includes on the board of Global Payments Inc., a Fortune 500 payments technology company and eight years as a board member for Crawford & Company, which specializes in insurance claims administration.

Upon her installment, Johnson will serve on Regions’ 13-member board which will consist of 12 independent outside directors.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

13 hours ago

State Rep. Oliver: Combatting Critical Race Theory in Alabama is ‘the way we stand up to woke-ism’

Republicans have made taking on so-called Critical Race Theory a priority in recent weeks claiming such philosophies are an effort to undermine cultural norms and indoctrinate in a way that benefits the Democratic Party.

Florida, Arkansas, Idaho and Oklahoma have banned the theory from their public school classrooms. Many would like to see Alabama follow suit, and there have been bills filed for the legislature’s 2022 regular session to do as much. One of those bills is being brought by State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville), who takes it beyond the classroom and applies restrictions throughout state government.

Oliver discussed the bill during Tuesday’s broadcast of “The Jeff Poor Show” on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5.

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“[I]’ve got a bill that’s fairly unique, and we expect it to go through the state government committee,” he said. “My bill actually covers any state agency, its contractors and subcontractors, to include schools. We felt like it was important to address this issue with a holistic approach.”

“The first thing is deciding what you don’t want taught,” Oliver continued. “That’s the most important piece. And I would like to say, this bill, it absolutely describes what we don’t want taught — it doesn’t mean that you can’t teach inclusion or diversity. It means you can’t teach some things as fact and then we’re not going to teach our kids that one sex or race is better than another. And in a nutshell, that is the crux of it.”

The Tallapoosa County lawmaker said his effort could serve as a bulwark against a creeping effort to indoctrinate.

“[I]t’s the way we stand up to woke-ism,” Oliver declared. “If we’re ever going to draw a line in the sand, Critical Race Theory is it. I say that not because I’m the smartest guy in the world or this is something I’ve thought all my life, but I’ve got a child that goes to a major university in the state. And I am absolutely appalled by what I’ve witnessed there the last three years with my child. If you don’t think universities are indoctrinating your kids, everybody needs to wake up.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

14 hours ago

Manufacture Alabama backs Ainsworth for reelection

As Alabama maintains its status among the top states in the nation for manufacturing, the industry’s dedicated trade association has made its choice for lieutenant governor.

Manufacture Alabama has given its full support to Will Ainsworth in his bid for reelection to the office, according to a release from the group.

George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama, cited Ainsworth’s background in manufacturing and knowledge of its key issues in announcing the endorsement.

“Manufacture Alabama is endorsing Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth for reelection due to his commitment to maintaining a business-friendly environment in Alabama,” Clark said. “Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth grew up in the manufacturing industry and understands firsthand that our members are the backbone of the state and nation’s economy. He is a friend to our association and a tireless advocate for manufacturers across Alabama. In his leadership role, it is clear that he is dedicated to serving his home state with enthusiasm and integrity. We are proud to give him our full endorsement for the reelection of Lieutenant Governor.”

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Ainsworth, who has now picked up a string of endorsements from trade associations, believes the state’s successes in manufacturing are something that can continue.

“I am proud to have the endorsement of Manufacture Alabama,” he stated. “Our tremendous manufacturers are sources of good-paying 21st century jobs for hardworking Alabamians, and the goods and materials they produce are integral across a broad range of sectors. Alabama is open for business, and I’m firmly committed to making our state the workforce engine of the Southeast so we can continue to grow jobs through expansion and recruitment. Working together, I am confident we will build an even stronger Alabama for our children and our children’s children.”

The manufacturing industry employs more than 250,000 people in Alabama, a figure which makes up a double-digit percentage of the state’s workforce.

Ainsworth announced his reelection campaign earlier this month.

Since that time, he has received the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association, the Petroleum and Convenience Marketers Association and U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).

RELATED: Lt. Gov. Ainsworth: Huntsville preferred location for Space Command ‘based on merit and based on policies’

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia