By WSFA Staff
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced updates to Alabama’s “safer at home” order Thursday morning that keep many restrictions in place but relax some others in the battle against COVID-19.
Under the updated order:
- Emergency occupancy rates were removed for retailers, fitness centers and entertainment venues.
- An exception to social-distancing rules will be allowed for many businesses, including barber shops, hair salons, gyms, and restaurants, if people are wearing masks and separated by an “impermeable” barrier.
This means restaurants and many other businesses will be able to accommodate more people if partitions are in place.
The order will remain in effect until Dec. 11.
“While some folks are more susceptible to COVID-19 than others, no one is immune,” Ivey said. “So even as we continue to emphasize good, sound health practices, we must be able to find the proper balance on living our lives to the greatest extent we can.”
Many of the restrictions that have been in place for months will remain. They include:
- Masks required in schools and colleges, where possible, for employees and students in second grade and above.
- Masks required in public when interacting within 6 feet with people of another household.
“I am willing to keep the mask order in place, realizing that sooner than later it’s going to be up to each of us to do the right thing,” Ivey said.
Alabama has seen a recent increase in COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 1,151 new cases of COVID-19. Alabama’s death toll stands at 3,026.
Dr. Harris said Alabama has seen 22,000 new cases reported in the last 14 days, though some are due to a backlog. Alabama is seeing an increase in the numbers since last month with the percent positive rate at almost 10 percent.
Harris said federal officials have indicated that one or two vaccine products are expected to be available by the end of the year and that he plans to take the vaccine once he is eligible. He reiterated that it will be safe and effective.
With the holidays approaching, the state health officer urged residents to take precautions and recommended having outdoor events with gathering.