On March 19, 2020, the Alabama State Health Officer issued a statewide order “Suspending Certain Public Gatherings Due to Risk of Infection by COVID-19.” This order follows on the heels of a March 17 order imposing similar restrictions in Blount, St. Clair, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and Walker Counties.
The order restricts in-restaurant dining; elective medical procedures; trips to the beach and more. The new order has 7 categories of restrictions:
“Effective immediately, all elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed.” The order gives no clarity on the length of delays. Presumably, a delay might cause some procedures to transform from “elective” to medically necessary.
Effective immediately, all hospitals and nursing homes /Long Term Care Facilities shall prohibit visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end of live.
Effective at the close of the school or business day on March 19, 2020, all schools, colleges and universities are closed. There are limited exceptions for certain preschools and childcare centers.
Effective at 5:00 PM on March 19, 2020:
-All gatherings of 25 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between person, are prohibited. This Order shall apply to all gatherings, events or activities that bring 25 or more persons in a single room or a single space at the same time.
-All beaches shall be closed. The definition of “beach” includes “the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.”
-All restaurants, bars, breweries or similar establishments shall not permit on-premises consumption of food or drink.
a. Such establishments may continue to offer food for take-out delivery provided social distancing protocols including maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons are followed.
b. Such establishments are strongly encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pickup of food.
c. Hospital food service areas are excluded provided they have their own social distancing plan.
Effective March 20, 2020, all Senior Citizen Center gatherings shall be closed.
Potentially organizers of events can apply with the State Health Officer for an exemption from these restrictions, but the request must be submitted AT LEAST two weeks in advance of any scheduled event.
The order does not impose an explicit time limit on these restrictions but does say that a determination on whether to extend the order will be made “prior to April 6, 2020.”
Here is a link to a tweet by Chris England with the order: COVID-19 Tweet
Here is a link to the order itself: COVID-19 Order