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Gov. Kay Ivey closes beaches, expands restaurant restrictions statewide

Gov. Kay Ivey speaks at her first coronavirus press conference on March 13, 2020.

UPDATE: Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health said Friday that this public health order issued Thursday is not meant to apply to work-related gatherings of 25 people or more. Read more about how this applies to businesses here.


Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health on Thursday issued a statewide health order to aid in Alabama’s efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The state’s beaches will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and any gathering of 25 or more people is prohibited. All daycare facilities are to close as of the close of business Thursday. 

Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris at a press conference Thursday said there were 68 confirmed cases in Alabama, which is more than a 48 percent increase from the day before.

“It seems as though wherever we look in the state we’re finding cases of infection,” Harris said. “We believe that we have community transmission across the state.” 

Harris noted recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows large numbers of hospitalizations among younger people in the U.S. 

“Additionally, we have learned that even though the elderly and seniors are the ones most at risk for serious disease, fully 40 percent of the hospitalizations are occurring among people that would be considered young adults or middle-aged as well,” Harris said. 

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“Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact. The decision to place regulations upon Alabamians living in Jefferson County and its surrounding counties was an effort to contain the area in which the virus has been prevalent in our state,” Ivey said in a statement. 

 “As of this morning, 68 individuals have tested positive for the Coronavirus in Alabama. While I am pleased that many of our citizens are self-regulating and are practicing social distancing, we want to ensure that Alabama is doing our part to flatten the curve.

 “Closing Alabama beaches is not a simple decision but one that I came to with the consultation of our elected officials along the coast and members of my administration. After many rounds of conversations with local leaders, in which we discussed several options, I have decided to close beach access in any form. Since we do not want to promote social gatherings, keeping the beaches open sends the wrong message to the public. At this moment, the safety and wellbeing of Alabamians is paramount,” Ivey said in the statement.

“I’d like to make a plea to the people in the state. Please pay attention to this. Please take this seriously. This virus is serious, and can kill,” Harris said.

“I’d like to make a plea to the people in the state. Please pay attention to this. Please take this seriously. This virus is serious, and can kill,” Harris said. 

Harris said testing in Alabama “has come in fits and starts” and there remains concern over a lack of testing supplies. He said the federal government has focused on sending those supplies to harder-hit areas in the U.S.

“What we’ve learned about this virus is that when someone is exposed, symptoms may show up within a couple of days, but sometimes it may take as long as two weeks to show up,” Harris said. “So, every single thing that we’re doing today is not really going to affect the numbers we’re going to see over the next two weeks.” 

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The people who are infected at this point, Harris said, are already infected, and “we’re going to see those numbers continue to increase over the next two weeks in spite of what we’ve implemented.”

Statewide through April 5:

  • All gatherings of 25 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. This Order shall apply to all gatherings, events or activities that bring 25 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time.
  • Any restaurant, bar, brewery or similar establishments shall not permit on-premise consumption of food or drink. Governor Ivey continues to encourage patrons to visit their local eateries for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols include maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons is followed.
  • All beaches will be closed effective today at 5:00 p.m. For clarification, the term “beach” means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.
  • Preschools and childcare centers will be closed effective at close of school or business today. This shall not apply to licensed childcare centers that provide services exclusively to employees with: State and Local Governments, First Responders (including EMS and Fire Services), Law Enforcement, Hospitals, Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities), End-Stage Renal Disease Treatment Centers, Pharmacies and grocery stores.
  • Effective immediately, all Hospitals and Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.
  • All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.

Governor Kay Ivey: “Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact. The decision to place regulations upon Alabamians living in Jefferson County and its surrounding counties was an effort to contain the area in which the virus has been prevalent in our state.

“As of this morning, 68 individuals have tested positive for the Coronavirus in Alabama. While I am pleased that many of our citizens are self-regulating and are practicing social distancing, we want to ensure that Alabama is doing our part to flatten the curve.

“Closing Alabama beaches is not a simple decision but one that I came to with the consultation of our elected officials along the coast and members of my administration. After many rounds of conversations with local leaders, in which we discussed several options, I have decided to close beach access in any form. Since we do not want to promote social gatherings, keeping the beaches open sends the wrong message to the public. At this moment, the safety and wellbeing of Alabamians is paramount.

“In addition, we rely heavily upon our first responders and critical healthcare workers to help those who are ill, as well as essential state government employees to keep the continuity of government, and many of them struggle with dependent childcare if daycares close. As a result, I have asked the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Public Health to explore emergency rulemaking to make critical exemptions to allow for daycare to be provided for these areas of crucial personnel.

“My administration – and all the services of state government – are going to be as flexible as humanly possible to help make your government work for you during the coming days and weeks. I want to the thank the people of our great state for their continued patience and for taking great care of themselves and each other during this pandemic.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “We understand that the health orders issued will be a hardship on Alabamians. We must, first and foremost, protect the health and safety of our citizens. This decision has not been made lightly and will help to prevent the spread of this virus.”

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