Alabama to partially reopen despite rising coronavirus cases
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said Tuesday that she will allow retailers, some businesses and state beaches to reopen on Thursday, despite acknowledging that Alabama’s number of COVID-19 cases is still rising.
Ivey said she will not extend the state’s expiring stay-at-home order, but will issue a new “safer at home” order, effective Thursday, that encourages, but doesn’t require, people to stay home.
Businesses will be allowed to open if they follow sanitation and social-distancing guidelines, but “higher-risk” establishments — including gyms, theaters, bowling alleys and night clubs — will remain closed. All retail stores will be able to open at a 50 percent occupancy rate.
Beaches will reopen, but gatherings of 10 people or more are banned and people must stay at least six feet apart. Services at restaurants, bars and breweries will remain limited to take-out, curbside pickup or delivery.
The reopening of parts of Alabama’s economy goes against recommendations by the White House that states should only reopen after seeing a downward trajectory in new cases over a two-week period.
“While we have not seen a decrease in the amount of newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients, we have seen a stabilization — a leveling off, if you will, in the amount of cases,” Ivey said at a Tuesday press conference.
“I look forward to easing back into our routines with caution,” she said.
She added that “as of this week, we no longer believe our hospitals will see an overwhelming amount of ICU patients who need ventilators.”
Public health experts say widespread testing is needed before the economy can safely be reopened. Alabama has tested 74,359 people, which is about 1.5 percent of the state’s population.
There are 6,580 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alabama, an increase of 150 cases in a day, and 241 people have died.
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