Office of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey | MARCH 19, 2020 | PRESS RELEASE
MONTGOMERY – Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) on Thursday issued a statewide health order to aid in Alabama’s efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Statewide through April 5:
- All gatherings of 25 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. This Order shall apply to all gatherings, events or activities that bring 25 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time.
- Any restaurant, bar, brewery or similar establishments shall not permit on-premise consumption of food or drink. Governor Ivey continues to encourage patrons to visit their local eateries for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols include maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons are followed.
- All beaches will be closed effective today at 5 p.m. For clarification, the term “beach” means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.
- Preschools and childcare centers will be closed effective at close of school or business today. This shall not apply to licensed childcare centers that provide services exclusively to employees with: State and Local Governments, First Responders (including EMS and Fire Services), Law Enforcement, Hospitals, Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities), End Stage Renal Disease Treatment Centers, Pharmacies and grocery stores.
- Effective immediately, all Hospitals and Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.
- All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.
Governor Kay Ivey: “Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact. The decision to place regulations upon Alabamians living in Jefferson County and its surrounding counties was an effort to contain the area in which the virus has been prevalent in our state.
“As of this morning, 68 individuals have tested positive for the Coronavirus in Alabama. While I am pleased that many of our citizens are self-regulating and are practicing social distancing, we want to ensure that Alabama is doing our part to flatten the curve.
“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. 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.
“In addition, we rely heavily upon our first responders and critical healthcare workers to help those who are ill, as well as essential state government employees to keep the continuity of government, and many of them struggle with dependent childcare if daycares close. As a result, I have asked the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Public Health to explore emergency rulemaking to make critical exemptions to allow for daycare to be provided for these areas of crucial personnel.
“My administration – and all the services of state government – are going to be as flexible as humanly possible to help make your government work for you during the coming days and weeks. I want to the thank the people of our great state for their continued patience and for taking great care of themselves and each other during this pandemic.”
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “We understand that the health orders issued will be a hardship on Alabamians. We must, first and foremost, protect the health and safety of our citizens. This decision has not been made lightly and will help to prevent the spread of this virus.”
The order of the State Health Officer to be signed today and take effect statewide through April 5 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 Gov. Kay Ivey:
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 also says that effective today at 5 p.m., all gatherings of 25 people or more, or 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 until April 6?
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? Will the BASS tournament this weekend be impacted?
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. The BASS tournament may be affected by the prohibition on gatherings of 25 or more people.
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, these activities would not be affected by the closure of beaches, even if they are done in our coastal communities.