While the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected just one known person so far in Alabama, officials in Baldwin County are taking cautionary measures to postpone or cancel some public gatherings. Others are monitoring the situation, prepared to take similar measures if necessary.
Locally, the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival has been the biggest casualty, after the Fairhope City Council agreed Thursday to postpone and likely cancel next weekend’s event.
Today, the city followed that news by announcing the temporary closure of the James P. Nix Center and the Fairhope Museum of History.
Over the next two weeks, both facilities will undergo deep-cleaning measures. Events at the city ball fields and Fairhope Civic Center will remain scheduled at the discretion of the organizers. For now, contractual events at the Fairhope Civic Center will go on at the discretion of the organizations who have contracted for the facility.
The Fairhope Recreation Center will close Saturday for three days of cleaning, but will reopen Tuesday, March 17, with extra cleaning and disinfection measures taken daily.
Also postponed was The Wharf Yacht & Boat Show in Orange Beach, which officials hope to reschedule later in the summer.
Nationally, the National Collegiate Athletic Association canceled all winter and spring championships March 12, including the NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship in Gulf Shores May 1-3. In a joint statement from the city of Gulf Shores and the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission, they explained it was canceled “to protect student-athletes, coaches, staffs, families and fans amid COVID-19 concerns. These championships will not be rescheduled for this school year.”
Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission, said, “we respect the NCAA’s decision to cancel all winter and spring championships. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach is still open for leisure, sports and business travel, and we are monitoring and communicating the guidelines issued by the Alabama Department of Health and the CDC with local tourism-based businesses, beach guests and event planners.”
Similarly, the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) has suspended all regular season competition for all teams from March 13-30, including those played by athletes at Coastal Alabama Community College.
The University of South Alabama has transitioned to online-only classes as a precaution, but CACC classes are still scheduled. However, the college has recommended all out-of-state travel be suspended until further notice.
On March 12, Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler reported that there were no known cases of coronavirus in the system, “though we expect this could change.”
All in-state and out-of-state school-sponsored travel have been canceled through the end of Spring Break, and may be extended when re-evaluated later.
“Over the last three weeks, our system has been planning for staged responses to the impact of the Coronavirus in our area,” Tyler said. This staged response includes plans to close schools for short term and long-term periods if necessary.”
Meanwhile, the Hangout Music Fest issued its first official statement since the outbreak, with organizers saying it is currently “moving forward as planned.” Scheduled May 15-17 in Gulf Shores, the sold-out event is expected to bring more than 40,000 music fans and features headliners the Read Hot Chili Peppers, Post Malone, Billie Eilish and Marshmello.
“Safety is our number one concern for our fans, employees, vendors and the community. We will continue to work with the appropriate authorities to produce a safe and healthy festival.”
But they encouraged ticket-holders to stay tuned as information becomes available.
No artists have announced they were canceling their appearances at Hangout, although Eilish is one of many who have canceled tour dates through March or beyond. Concert promoters Live Nation and AEG suspended all tours through the end of the month and other large festivals such as Austin’s SXSW and Coachella in California have been canceled.
In Foley, a number of national governing bodies released statements canceling or postponing all sanctioned events and as a result, a number of events at the Foley Sports Complex have been impacted, according to a news release.
Among those are: the Perdido Soccer Shootout Boys Weekend, scheduled March 14-15, which has been canceled; the Spring Fling Volleyball Tournament scheduled March 21-22, which has been postponed to April 25-26; the Jubilee Jam Lacrosse Tournament scheduled for Saturday, March 21 has been canceled; and the Optional State/Xcel Gymnastics meet scheduled for March 27-29 has been canceled.
Jury trials have been postponed in Mobile and Jefferson counties, according to reports, but Baldwin County Presiding Judge Scott Taylor said today that there are no jury terms scheduled until mid-April, and the circuit will coordinate with the state health department and Administrative Office of the Courts in Montgomery should suspensions or postponements be necessary.
“We are nowhere near that at this point,” he said.
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