The order of the State of Alabama Health Officer that was signed on Thursday, March 19, 2020 and takes effect statewide through April 5 [extended to April 17] says in part that, “Effective today, March 19, 2020, at 5:00 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.
Here are answers to some questions anticipated by the public, as provided by the Office of Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday, March 19:
I have a reservation for a week at the Gulf State Park/Perdido Beach Resort/Caribe Condo, etc. Can I still go to the beach with my family or does this order negate that trip?
You may visit and enjoy the properties—for instance, you can watch the sunset from your balcony or deck. But you cannot go to the beach as defined above. Property owners should be sure to employ measures avoiding gathering of crowds and to address 6-foot distancing. (The order, which was amended on March 20 and March 27, also says that all non-work related gatherings of 10 people or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited.)
I own a place at the beach. Does this mean I can’t take my kids and build a sand-castle with them while they are out of school?
The above definition prohibits you from going to the sandy area of the beach.
If I’m renting a condo or a home, who is the enforcement mechanism to keep me from taking a walk on the beach?
State law makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly violate or refuse to obey any rule or regulation adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Health; fines would range from $25 and $500.
If we are closing the beaches, are we also closing Lake Martin, Smith Lake and other public/private lakes?
To date, we have not seen the problems of mass congregation at these lakes; thus, under the current definition of “beach” the lakes will not be affected.
If I’m at the beach, can I still use the walking trail? Can I play golf at one of the golf courses down at the beach? Can I take my kids to the Zoo?
Unless these activities are conducted in a gathering of 25 or more persons [State Health Order was amended on March 27 to prohibit non-work gatherings of 10 or more persons and proper seperation of 6 feet], these activities would not be affected by the closure of beaches, even if they are done in our coastal communities.
To see emergency orders issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health, go to http://alabamapublichealth.gov/legal/orders.html.
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism is maintaining an informational page for visitors at www.gulfshores.com/plan/coronavirus. For quick links, go to the following: