Effective Saturday, April 4, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has ordered all Alabama citizens to shelter in place (stay in their home) unless one of the numerous and broadly-defined exceptions apply.
This may seem more restrictive than the “social distancing” policies in place in most cities. But, it will not change the current way of life for most Alabamians.
One of the only major changes the Order brings is to limit the number of customers essential retailers, such as grocery stores, can allow in stores. For instance, the Order limits the number of customers to 50% of their occupancy rate (as established by the Fire Marshal.)
We’ve been getting a lot of emails and calls about the Alabama Shelter in Place Order, so here are some answers to questions our friends and clients are asking and what it means for you. We hope this helps.
The Alabama Shelter in Place Order & What it Means For You
How long does the Alabama Shelter in Place Order last?
The Order’s provisions are in effect through April 30, 2020.
Is it a crime to violate the Alabama Stay at Home Order?
Yes. At Governor Ivey’s press conference, state Attorney General Steve Marshall confirmed that violations of the Order are punishable. *
Any person who violates the Order can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor. The punishment for the crime is a fine of no less than $25 and no more than $500. But, because the Order’s exceptions are so broad, it is difficult to see how law enforcement could cite someone for a violation.
What are the exceptions to Sheltering in Place? When can I leave my home?
The list of exceptions is long and broad.
You can go to work if you work for an “essential business” (more on that later). You can leave home to get necessary supplies for yourself, household family members, and for loved ones or friends who cannot (or should not) leave home. You may leave home to obtain or provide necessary services, which is defined very broadly.
You may leave to attend a religious service, wedding, or funeral; however, the service must be fewer than ten people or be a “drive-in” worship service. You can also leave to take care of a family member or to engage in outdoor activities where less than ten people are involved.
For a full list of exceptions, please see the Order.
What are “essential businesses” as defined in the Order?
Again, the list is long and broad. Because of the extensive language of the Order, the vast majority of Alabama workers are considered employees of essential businesses.
The list of businesses include:
- healthcare workers
- government operations
- infrastructure operations
- almost all manufacturing facilities
- agricultural operations
- essential retailers (including grocery stores, pharmacies, home improvement stores, and even liquor and gun stores, among others)
- restaurants and bars
- construction businesses
- banks and credit unions
- accounting firms
- law firms
- insurance companies
- real estate companies
- and many others.
For a full list of “essential business”, please see the Order.
So what businesses are not essential?
Since the list of essential businesses is long and is broadly defined, it is hard to imagine a company that is non-essential other than those specifically listed by the Order.
The Order does state explicitly that individual businesses must close to the public, including entertainment venues, athletic facilities, and close contact service providers, such as hair salons, tattoo parlors, and massage facilities, among a few others.
Most of these businesses had already been ordered closed to the public by a previous Order from Governor Ivey. It is important to note that these Orders require these businesses close to the public. However, they do not prevent employers from requiring their employees to report to work.
Is this like Martial Law? Do I have to carry documents showing where I am going?
No, the Governor hasn’t declared Martial Law. And, the Order does not require you to carry documentation like has been required in other countries.
It does state that essential business employers “may” (but are not required to) issue credentials to their employees verifying their status as an employee of an essential business.
Does the Alabama Shelter in Place Order supersede Orders made by local cities?
Governor Ivey’s Order supersedes only any city orders/ordinances that “purport to impose less stringent” measures. So, cities are free to impose more strict standards. But, cities cannot lessen the criteria outlined in the Governor’s Order.
Have more questions about Alabama’s Shelter in Place Order or Coronavirus? Please don’t hesitate to reach out through our website contact form, by calling our office, or through direct message on our Facebook page.
More Articles that you might be interested in:
- Personal Injuries During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- How COVID-19 Impacts the Alabama Employee
- Coronavirus and the Alabama Court System FAQs
* Ala. Code § 22-2-14