What You Need to Know about the Latest Alabama Safer at Home Update

Effective Friday, May 22, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has again revised her Safer at Home Order. The May Update now allows most businesses to reopen and many activities to resume. 

The new amended Safer at Home Order relaxes many of the restrictions for most businesses, workplaces, and recreation areas in Alabama—some continue to remain in place.

About Alabama’s Safer at Home Order Update

When does the current amended Safer at Home Order expire?

  • The old amended Safer at Home Order will expire on Friday, May 22, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., when the new order will take effect.

When does the new amended Safer at Home Order begin?

  • Alabama’s new amended Safer at Home order takes effect on Friday, May 22, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

How long does the new amended Safer at Home Order last? 

  • The new amended Safer at Home Order is in effect through Friday, July 3, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

What does Alabama’s new amended Safer at Home Order mean for me?

  • This new order gives you more freedom to leave your home and allows most businesses to reopen with limitations.

Continued Recommendations for Individuals

The new amended order continues to relax the requirement for Alabama citizens to stay at home except when performing necessary services. That means life can begin to return to normal (but still with limitations).  The updated order recommends that citizens “proceed with caution” as they go about their activities.

Continued recommendations include:

  • Minimizing travel outside the home.
  • Wearing face coverings when leaving your house and entering businesses.
  • Continuing diligent personal hygiene and disinfecting practices (washing hands with soap and water, disinfecting home surfaces, etc).
  • Maintaining social distancing of 6 to 10 feet for all activities outside the home.

What Business Must Do to Protect Employees and Customers from COVID-19 Exposure

The new amended order still requires employers to take reasonable steps to protect their employees and customers from exposure to Coronavirus. 

These precautions include:

  • Maintaining 6 feet of separation between all people.
  • Regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces.
  • Encouraging handwashing.
  • Preventing employees who are sick from coming into contact with other persons.
  • Providing remote working capability and minimizing travel whenever possible.

How the Safer at Home Order Affects Alabama Businesses

Now let’s look at the specifics of Alabama’s new amended Safer at Home order and what it means for different businesses. In the new order, not all businesses are treated equally.

We will review changes or lack thereof to the following types of Alabama businesses:

  • Entertainment venues and tourist attractions
  • Schools
  • Summer camps
  • Sports and athletic activities
  • Retail stores
  • Beaches
  • Doctor’s offices and health care facilities
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • Senior Centers

All the new updates and guidelines are designed to limit close contact between people and stay safe from potential Coronavirus exposure.

Entertainment Venues: Big Changes!

Under the new amended Order, entertainment venues (such as theaters, arcades, bowling alleys, and billiard halls) and tourist attractions may now reopen IF they comply with certain rules

The rules require entertainment venues to follow guidelines previously issued for all businesses and restaurants, and to:

  • Limit group reservations to no more than 8 persons, and reconfigure seating to maintain at least 6 feet of separation between groups.
  • Modify check-in and payment services to minimize contact.
  • All employees who come in contact with patrons, and all patrons over age 5 should wear masks or other face coverings.
  • Prohibit congested waiting areas, use designated entrance/exit areas, and use barriers, plastic shields, or floor markers to encourage social distancing.
  • Remove self-serve items such as drink stations, food or drink areas, or selection stations for bowling balls, golf clubs, etc.
  • Close common areas where social distancing will be difficult to maintain, such as playgrounds or children’s ball pits.
  • Other specific guidelines for bowling alleys, billiard halls and arcades, mini-golf courses, bingo halls, casinos, driving ranges, skating rinks, zoos, aquariums, and tourist attractions.

Schools: May Reopen with Limitations

Schools may begin a phased reopening process starting with summer programs for upper grades on June 1, 2020. The longer-term goal is to have classes resuming in August under certain restrictions.  The new amended Order also includes specific guidance for the phased reopening of schools in June.

Summer Camps and Overnight Youth Programs: May Reopen with Limitations

The new amended Order allows summer camps for children and youth overnight programs to reopen under specific guidelines.

Sports and Athletic Activities: May Reopen with Limitations

The new amended Order allows adult and youth sports programs and athletic activities to resume under certain guidelines and adaptations.

Retail Stores: No Change

Under the new amended Order, all retail stores continue to remain open IF they comply with certain rules. 

Beaches: No Change

All Alabama beaches may remain open as long as all persons maintain a consistent 6-foot distance between themselves and all persons from a different household. 

This includes public and private areas and islands.

Elective Medical and Dental Procedures:  No Change

The amended Order will allow physicians and dentists to continue to perform elective procedures unless they impact access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  

Providers must follow all Coronavirus rules established by regulatory boards, the ADPH and CDC.

Restaurants, Bars and Breweries: No Change

The amended May Order allows bars, restaurants, and breweries to remain open for eating on the premise with additional sanitation rules and guidelines and limited seating.

Hospitals and Nursing Homes: No Changes

Nursing homes and hospitals must continue to restrict visitation in their facilities.

High-Risk Businesses and Activities: No Changes

The new amended Safer at Home order allows many “higher-risk” businesses to remain open. 

These businesses include:

  • Athletic facilities such as gyms, fitness centers, and playgrounds may open subject to social distancing and sanitation guidelines. 
  • Some specific sports activities that involve prolonged close contact are still not allowed.
  • Close contact service providers such as hair and nail salons, barber shops, tattoo services, and spas may now open subject to social distancing guidelines and new sanitation rules.

Senior Centers: Remain Closed

All Alabama Senior Centers will stay closed and continue to suspend regular programming.

Meals will still be available through curbside pick-up or delivery.

Non-Work-Related Gatherings: Remain Restricted

Large gatherings are still frowned upon under the new order.

Any group gatherings of more than 10 persons will be allowed IF they keep a distance of 6 feet between persons who are from different households.  This means that houses of worship may now host services, subject to social distancing guidelines.

“Drive-in” gatherings are still allowed if everyone stays in cars with people from their own households.

Is It a Crime to Violate the Order?

 Yes. Violations of the Order are punishable by Alabama Code § 22-2-14.

What happens if you violate the Safer at Home Order?

  • Any person who knowingly violates the Order can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.
  • You can be fined between $25 – $500.

However, given the Order’s exceptions are so broad, it is difficult to see how law enforcement could cite someone for a violation.

Does the Order Override Orders from Other Cities?  

Governor Ivey’s Order supersedes any city orders or ordinances that are LESS strict than her amended Safer at Home Order.

That means that cities and counties are free to impose stricter measures. However, cities and counties cannot lessen the measures set forth in the Governor’s Order.

Still have questions about the new Safer at Home Order? You can find more information on the State of Alabama website here.

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