Numerous businesses will be required to shut down beginning Saturday after the state today issued a wide-ranging emergency health order.
The order issued by State Health Officer Scott Harris shuts down, from Saturday at 5 p.m. through April 17, four categories of businesses, and includes a detailed list of specific businesses in each category:
• Non-essential retail stores. This includes furniture and home-furnishing stores; clothing, shoe and clothing-accessory stores; jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores; department stores; book, craft and music stores; and sporting goods stores. Gun stores are not affected by the order and can remain open, Harris said.
• Entertainment venues. This includes nightclubs; bowling alleys; arcades; concert venues; theaters, auditoriums and performing arts centers; tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums); race tracks; indoor children's play areas; adult entertainment venues; casinos; bingo halls; and venues operated by social clubs.
• Athletic facilities and activities. This includes fitness centers and commercial gyms; spas and public or commercial swimming pools; yoga, barre and spin facilities; spectator sports; sports that involve interaction with another person closer than 6 feet; activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus or equipment; and activities on commercial or public playground equipment.
• Non-essential "close-contact" service establishments. This includes barbershops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage therapy establishments and massage services.
Today's health order revised the ban on non-work-related gatherings so it now applies to gatherings of 10 or more people, down from 25, and maintains the requirement that non-workplace gathering must maintain 6-foot distances between people.
The order also ends all "in-person instruction at all schools, public and private, including but not limited to: elementary, secondary, post-secondary, technical, or specialty schools, colleges and universities."
As of noon today, the Alabama Department of Public Health had reported 571 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and three deaths. The deaths were in Jackson, Lauderdale and Madison counties.
Harris said about eight other deaths are under investigation to determine if they were caused by COVID-19.
"The reason it takes a few moments to get that information out is that we need to actually confirm that the death is related to COVID-19. It's certainly possible for someone to die of a different cause and yet perhaps they've had a positive test at some point," Harris said.
Morgan County has nine confirmed cases, Limestone has 13 and Lawrence has three.
"Unfortunately, there's no instruction manual on how to do this," Gov. Kay Ivey said today at a press conference with Harris. "Yes it will be hard, but I am more confident than ever that we will get through this together."
She said she is seeking to protect public health while causing the least possible harm to the economy.
"Each day we watch the coronavirus spread throughout our state with one new report after another," she said. "... I cannot stress to you enough that we must be serious about eliminating the spread of this deadly virus. Folks, this real. It is very real."