Ivey orders closure of all beaches in Alabama
Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday issued a directive that all state and local governments must close their beachfront areas in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The governor said all beaches will be closed starting Thursday at 5:00 p.m and will remain closed until at least April 6. A determination will be made before that date as to whether the order shall be extended past then.
The order applies to all beaches, both privately and publicly owned.
“Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact,” said Ivey in a statement accompanying the order.
The governor’s decision came quickly on the heels of the City of Gulf Shores announcing it would be closing its beaches on its own.
A few hours before Ivey’s announcement, the Baldwin County Commission convened an emergency meeting and requested the state close public beaches in the unincorporated parts of the county.
As of 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, Alabama had 68 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
At a press conference on Thursday, Ivey mentioned closing the state’s beaches was under heavy consideration, and roughly 24 hours later she announced her final decision.
Multiple reports during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have shown Alabama’s beaches crowded with visitors, especially young people out of school. Most of the photos in the coverage show vacationers not observing the six-foot social distancing rule recommended by state officials.
Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health, has discouraged Alabamians from undertaking any travel that is not absolutely necessary.
“Closing Alabama beaches is not a simple decision but one that I came to with the consultation of our elected officials along the coast and members of my administration,” continued Ivey.
“After many rounds of conversations with local leaders, in which we discussed several options, I have decided to close beach access in any form. Since we do not want to promote social gatherings, keeping the beaches open sends the wrong message to the public. At this moment, the safety and wellbeing of Alabamians is paramount,” the governor concluded.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.