An estimated 82 protestors from the Small Business Coalition, that opposes the state’s “safer-at-home” restrictions, marched from Montgomery’s Crampton Bowl, to the Statehouse and on to the front steps of the Alabama Capitol Building on Tuesday.
The protestors carried flags and signs while urging Gov. Kay Ivey to lift the restrictions placed on the economy to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Former State Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, organized the group called the Alabama Small Business Coalition and the small rally.
“We just want the Governor to know that there is a lot of business owners are hurting. They want to get back to work,” Sanford said. “The best thing you can do for small businesses is an opportunity to reopen. They are not asking for handouts. They are asking for the opportunity to do what they do best, and that is their own operations.”
“We have a lot of hurting families in Alabama,” the conservative Eagle Forum’s Becky Gerritson said.
The rally was joined by State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, who has been a vocal proponent of immediately lifting restrictions.
“It is time to put the working men and women in Alabama back to work,” Dismukes said. “I own a commercial flooring company. Even though we are essential, our contracts dried up and for about six, seven, eight weeks, we have been doing absolutely nothing. I am also the pastor of a small church. We have about sixty people average in attendance each week. Our Church is really struggling.”
“I don’t know why we are continually being oppressed, and we have so much governmental overreach,” Dismukes said. “I fully believe that today is the day that we go back to work.”
“This is kind of an organic thing,” Sanford said. “This is really not my doing. This is kind of a group effort of people who are really hurting and just want to go back to work.”
Many of the protesters were longtime veterans of the Tea Party movement, but similar views are being expressed even in the highest corridors of power in Montgomery.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Senator Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, if we were in at the start of a global recession, and if we should pass a budget with a 5 percent proration across the board to deal with what is likely an extended economic downturn.
“That is not what is happening,” Albritton said. “Draconian steps” were taken to deal with the coronavirus situation, he said. “The economy will snap back. What we need now is to get people back to working.”
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, told APR that salons and barbershops could be able to reopen by May 15.
Marsh said that he is a member of the governor’s COVID-19 task force, and he believed that they will be able to reopen, but it is ultimately the governor’s decision.
On March 12, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections spreading across the country.
Governors across the country began issuing orders to shut down the economy. Ivey lifted a shelter in place order at the end of April, but the state is still under “safer-at-home” orders.
Barbershops, salons, massage parlors, sporting facilities, gyms, schools, concert halls, movie theaters, night clubs, churches and camps remain closed across the state until further notice and restaurants have been forced to close their dining rooms.
Unemployment has soared to levels not seen in this country since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Ivey has said that her decisions on when to reopen the economy “will be data-driven, not date-driven.”
Opponents to a rapid reopening of the economy argue that it will only expose more people to the coronavirus.
As of press time, 8,437 Alabamians have been diagnosed with COVID-19. 1,121 Alabamians have been hospitalized. Nationwide, 72,287 Americans have died from COVID-19.