Gov. Kay Ivey announced all beaches along the Gulf of Mexico will be closed by 5 p.m. today on the order of State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, who issued a proclamation this afternoon expanding certain restrictions on public gatherings statewide. The order includes all public and private beaches.
“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,” Ivey said in a statement. “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.”
Among other restrictions are “all gatherings of 25 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons.” The order shall apply to all gatherings, events or activities bringing 25 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time, and is currently set to expire on April 6.
The order also prohibits all restaurants, bars, breweries or similar establishments from allowing on-premise consumption of food or drink. But it does allow take-out or delivery, “provided the social distancing protocols include maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons are followed.”
All preschools and childcare centers will be closed effective at close of school or business today, except for “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.
Further, the order closes all hospitals and nursing home/long term care facilities (including assisted living and specialty care assisted living facilities) to all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.
Finally, it requests all elective dental and medical procedures be delayed, effective immediately.
“Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact,” Ivey said. “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.”
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said, “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.”
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