Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday that people in that state will move from a stay-at-home order to a safer-at-home order, which will be evaluated again on May 15. The order goes into effect on April 30.
The difference between a stay-at-home order vs. a safer-at-home order is that the former is an order to not leave your house unless absolutely essential whereas the latter means Alabama residents are “encouraged” to stay home, but not ordered to do so.
In Tuesday’s press conference Gov. Ivey said she implemented the stay-at-home order on April 4 in an effort to prevent hospitals from being overrun with COVID-19 patients, but this week she and her advisors no longer believe that Alabama will see an overwhelming amount of COVID-19 patients who need intensive care and ventilators, adding, “While we have not seen a decrease in the amount of newly diagnosed patients, we have seen stabilization — a leveling off if you will — in the amount of cases. Like everyone else, I look forward to easing back into our routines with caution.”
People Are Still Expected to Follow Social Distancing Measures
In Alabama, there have been 6,644 cases of COVID-19 with 242 deaths as of April 28 according to the state’s health department. Over 75,000 people in Alabama have tested negative for the virus, but the surveillance chart on the health department’s website shows that cases of COVID-19 are still increasing in the cotton state.
In a tweet thread posted after the press conference, the 75-year-old Republican governor reminded her constituents that even though she is lifting the stay-at-home order they are not out of the woods. But they can go to the beach.
Ivey tweeted that people are still expected to wear masks when around others who do not live in their household and that everyone needs to continue hand washing and other “good, common-sense hygiene.”
While there is an easing of some restrictions in the state, much is staying the same under the new orders. People can only gather in groups of 10 or less. Senior living homes will still impose visitor restrictions. Restaurants can only serve take-out food. Businesses such as gyms, bars, and nightclubs will remain closed. Businesses that require close contact with others such as salons, tattoo shops, and massage parlors cannot reopen yet.
However, other types of businesses can reopen as long as they incorporate social distancing and sanitation rules, with retail stores only allowed to be at 50% customer capacity. Elective medical procedures are allowed under the new orders as well after being prohibited for nearly a month.
Several Other States Have Already Lifted Their Stay-at-Home Orders
Georgia, South Carolina and Alaska all lifted their stay-at-home orders last week, according to Business Insider. A map at that publication’s website shows that Montana, Colorado, Mississippi, and Tennessee all lifted stay-at-home restrictions on April 27. While many are concerned its too soon, others think slowly it’s time to lift restrictions and get back to some kind of new normal.
Dr. Shannon Sovndal, a board certified doctor in both emergency medicine and emergency medical services told Heavy in an email that he thinks it’s okay to start reopening as long as we continue to take safety precautions. He wrote:
We have to start to open up society at some point. From the data we have at this point, we have flattened the curve. There are two reasons for this: 1) either the virus is behaving differently than we expected (infectivity etc.) or 2) the social distancing measures have worked. (Or 3) both!). I would be behind starting to open up communities, but with caveats. Social distancing needs to stay in effect (meaning, attempt to keep your distance from others – At a minimum stay 6 ft apart). Additionally, we need to be diligent about wearing masks. I think that wearing a mask (and doing it appropriately) is the single biggest protection we have. But everyone has to do it for it to work.