MONTGOMERY — Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Friday announced an updated State of Emergency order related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the latest variation closing down “non-essential” businesses across the Yellowhammer State.
Businesses affected by Ivey’s announcement fall into one of four broad categories: entertainment venues; athletic facilities and activities; non-essential “close-contact” service establishments; and non-essential retail stores.
Places like grocery stores, take-out/delivery restaurants and pharmacies remain open. The order, effective 5:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, extends to April 17, subject to alteration or extension by the governor.
Ivey made the announcement in a live-streamed address. The governor was joined by Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer. To practice social distancing, members of the media were not able to attend. The governor’s office did not allow live remote questioning of Ivey or Harris. Instead, written questions had to be submitted by at least two hours prior to the conference; the governor’s office screened and chose which questions would be answered ahead of time.
You can watch Ivey’s and Harris’ remarks below:
Ivey reiterated that she does not believe a statewide “shelter-in-place” order is warranted at this time. She encouraged localities to go further than her State of Emergency order as needed on a case-by-case basis, saying “one-size” does not fit all.
The order details that non-work related gatherings of 10 or more are banned statewide. The state had previously set the limit at 25 people in one place.
The penalties for breaking the Public Health Order are a $500 dollar fine per infraction and a misdemeanor charge.
Liquor stores and gun stores will remain open. The order lists out exactly what types of businesses must close.
“I cannot stress to you enough the fact that we must be serious about eliminating the spread of this deadly virus,” warned Ivey.
“Foks, this is real, it is very real,” she continued.
“Last week I authorized Adjutant General Sheryl Gordon with the Alabama National Guard to activate up to 100 guardsmen.
“I will soon be putting their first unit to work,” added Ivey.
Yellowhammer News has asked the governor’s office to provide further clarification on what the governor’s plans are for the National Guard unit.
UPDATE 1:15 p.m.
Gina Maiola, press secretary for Ivey, stated, “As the governor mentioned, there are 100 members of the Alabama National Guard on standby that she will soon be putting to work. Governor Ivey and Adjutant General Gordon are actively working on these plans.”
“We will use a measured and balanced approach to address this crisis,” the governor went on to say.
“Unfortunately there is no instruction manual,” she confided to the public.
Ivey stressed multiple times in her speech and in her responses to questions that she feels a responsibility to keep as much of Alabama’s economy functioning as possible.
Yellowhammer News asked Harris how, in effect, today’s order was different from a shelter-in-place order.
“The intent of this is similar to maybe what a shelter-in-place is. It is not coercive, it’s not literally a shelter-in-place, but we’re trying to emphasize the importance that people [need] to stay home and stay away from crowds,” replied Harris.
The order can be read below or here:
The following “non-essential” businesses must close to non-employees, effective Saturday, March 28, at 5:00 p.m. CT:
Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
Tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums)
Indoor children’ s play areas
Adult entertainment venues
Venues operated by social clubs
Fitness centers and commercial gyms
Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
Yoga, barre, and spin facilities
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
Nail salons and spas
Body-art facilities and tattoo services
Massage-therapy establishments and massage services
Furniture and home-furnishings stores
Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
Sporting goods stores
Book, craft, and music stores
This came the day after Ivey announced students would not physically return to school this academic year.
This is breaking news and will be updated.
RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn