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New order prohibits gatherings of 25 or more, on-premise dining in restaurants

Closed for business.

That’s the sign people are likely to see more and more as the coronavirus, and the fear around it, continues to spread. A state order Thursday morning is now mandating many measures people and businesses had already begun taking voluntarily.

The order, signed by state health officer Scott Harris and detailed by Gov. Kay Ivey in a media conference earlier today, indicates the following, effective March 19 at 5 p.m.:

  • All gatherings of 25 people or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent 6-foot distance between people, are prohibited.
  • All Senior Citizen Center gatherings shall be closed. Senior Citizen Centers and their partners are urged to ensure their clients continue to receive needed meals via curbside pick-up or delivery.
  • All restaurants, bars, breweries and similar establishments shall not permit on-premises consumption of food or drink. Such establishments may continue to offer food for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols, including maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are followed.
  • All beaches shall be closed.
  • All schools, public and private, shall be closed, with employees encouraged to work from home or maintain social distancing if they must work on site.
  • All preschools and childcare centers shall be closed, excepting those operated to benefit specific populations – e.g., the children of government workers, first responders, pharmacies and others – that are employer-operated and located on the premises of, or in the immediate vicinity of, one of the enumerated categories of employers.
  • All hospitals and nursing home/long-term care facilities shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and non-essential healthcare personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.

Effective immediately, all elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed.

The order notes that if organizers or sponsors of otherwise suspended events desire, they may submit a request for an exemption from this order, at the discretion of the state health officer. Requests for an exemption must be submitted at least two weeks in advance of any scheduled event.

The order is in effect through April 6. Prior to April 6, a determination will be made whether to extend it.