Governor order places coronavirus restrictions

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 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 Thursday afternoon, mandated the following as of Thursday 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. This does not apply to workplaces, which nevertheless should “take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.”
  • 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 as well as colleges, shall be closed, with employees encouraged to work from home or maintain social distancing if they must work on site.
  • Local boards of education may provide daytime special activities programs for 6-12-year-old children of essential employees of state and local governments, first responders, law enforcement, hospitals, nursing home/long-term care facilities, end-stage renal disease treatment centers, pharmacies and grocery stores.
  • Facilities providing child daycare may remain open so long as 12 or more children are not allowed in a room or other enclosed or separated space at the same time. Facilities are encouraged to use enhanced sanitation and social-distancing practices consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • 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.

While there are no beaches in Franklin County, and local schools systems had already closed before Thursday, dining establishments are certainly bearing the brunt of the new restrictions.

“We have switched to curbside takeout only,” said Jason Davis, owner of 43 Grill in Russellville. “We’ll stay open probably from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., depending on business. Anyone that wants a salad, we will make it for them. They can pay on the phone or come in and pay, but nobody can eat inside.”

Victor Hodges and his wife, Kelly Hodges, own Speedy Pig in Russellville. He said the dining room is now closed, and they had to let their second shift crew go. “I regret more than anything having to do that,” Hodges said. “The change was part of a decision to reduce how many people are coming and going in an attempt to try to help stop the spread of coronavirus. We hated having to do it.”

Hodges said among the precautions being taken are using hand sanitizer every time after touching money.

Speedy Pig has been closed on Mondays but will try being open, running probably until about 5:30 p.m. “I don’t know how long we’ll be able to hold up under these conditions,” Hodges said, “but we’re going to do what we can.”

Other changes include adding items to the menu, including a return to selling barbecue, something he has 33 years of experience doing. It’s also the main item the restaurant has long been known for, something Hodges said was always popular among their customers. Other additions coming to the menu in the near future will likely include smoked chicken, ribs and beef briskets.

Hodges said they’re taking precautions and also trying to provide food they think their customers will enjoy.

“We’re going to do the best we can and hope that people like it and that it helps provide a service in these uncertain times,” Hodges said. “We’ll just have to watch and see what happens.”

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


Maria Camp contributed to this report.

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