When will Alabama reopen?

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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Finding a time to reopen Alabama has been a key focus for Gov. Kay Ivey and her cabinet since issuing a shelter in place order, and they took the first step last week when Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and the Alabama Small Business Commission’s Emergency Task Force submitted a plan.

Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to go over the plan. In Ivey’s press conference last week, she said the two were aiming to meet by April 28 to try and reopen the state.

“While I’m personally grateful that so many people appear to be staying at home and taking the order to heart, all indicators suggest that it is working,” Ivey said during her press conference.

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One of the reasons that reopening the state is more of a possibility is the state’s ability to handle patient care capacity, which wasn’t always a given.

“We have been worried that we would have not enough hospital capacity, or that we would need to have an alternative care site in different areas to take care of patients. At the moment that does not appear to be the case,” Harris said.

The 158-page document went into 12 different sections of business and how each section should handle either a reopen or continued operation. Of the eight sections that are trying to reopen, four would be able to reopen immediately, while three would reopen on May 1.

Hair and nail salons, barbershops, childcare services, retail stores and restaurants would be able to reopen immediately with regulations.

Restaurants would be able to open their dining rooms, but the number of customers would be limited.

The maximum number of people at a table would be six. Handles and other high contact areas will be cleaned a minimum of once every two hours. When waiting for a table, one member of the party will be able to wait in the waiting area, but the rest of the party must wait in their car.

If the menu is laminated, it will be cleaned after every use. Paper menus will be disposed of after every use. Drinks will be used in a clean cup for refills.

Salons and barbershops will not take walk-ins. Customers will not be allowed to wait inside the sitting area and will wait inside their cars instead. The only services that will be allowed at barbershops are hair cuts and shaves, while hair and nail salons will not provide reading material for customers. All equipment will be cleaned after every use. All barbers, stylists and nail technicians will wear masks at all times.

Under the possible guidelines, child services will limit the ratio of children to teachers to 11:1. Employees are instructed to wear facemasks.

Retail stores will limit customers to 50% of the fire capacity. Entrances and exits will be cleaned at least three times a day and sale registers will be 6 feet apart. Employees will also enforce the 6-foot social distancing guidelines in the store.

Medical services, entertainment venues and beaches would reopen on May 1.

At doctor’s offices, patients are required to wait in their cars until a room is open. The patient will be escorted straight into the room. Only the patient is allowed into the office unless they need a caregiver or parent to accompany them. Nonemergent conditions will be handled over telemedicine if possible. All physicians will wear gloves and masks.

At a dental office, patients will be met at their cars by a staff member, who is wearing gloves and a mask, for a screening process, which will include the taking of temperature and other questions.

In all medical appointments, rooms and equipment will be cleaned after every use.

Exercise facilities will spread equipment around to maintain 6 feet of separation. Equipment will be wiped down by both staff and customers after use. Food is not permitted to be eaten at the location and customers are encouraged to bring their own drinks.

Beaches are reopening for recreational use only. The use of tents, chairs and umbrellas are prohibited. These guidelines could be changed on May 15.

Youth athletic activities will open last, opening on May 11, which is mainly baseball and softball during this time of the year. Social distancing is required whenever applicable, mainly in the dugouts. Concession stands will not be allowed to open and public restrooms are limited to one-in-one-out policies.