Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Alabama, US, to lift additional business restrictions starting May 22, as part of the state's COVID-19 recovery plan.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Huntsville, Alabama
  • Montgomery, Alabama
  • Florence-Muscle Shoals, Alabama
  • Dothan, Alabama
  • Gadsden, Alabama
  • Auburn, Alabama

This alert began 22 May 2020 12:40 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Alabama (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and transport disruptions likely

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey amended an executive order to lift restrictions on additional businesses starting at 1700 May 22, while urging all residents to minimize travel outside their homes, as part of the state's efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Among the businesses allowed to reopen are:

  • Entertainment venues, including theaters, cinemas, arcades, and bowling alleys; they must all limit the number of customers to 50 percent their maximum capacity.
  • Childcare centers, starting at 1700 May 23.
  • Educational institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities, starting June 1.
  • Athletic teams may resume practices May 22 and competition June 15.

Previously, authorities had allowed multiple other businesses and services to resume operations:

  • Retail stores, limiting the number of customers to 50 percent their maximum capacity.
  • Dine-in services at restaurants and bars, ensuring distance between tables and limited to groups of eight per table. Delivery and pickup services are encouraged.
  • Gyms and athletic facilities, limiting the number of customers to 50 percent of their maximum capacity.
  • Personal care businesses, such as hair salons and barbershops.
  • Medical and dental non-urgent procedures.
  • Beaches, with no limitation on gatherings.

Essential businesses and services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks, along with transport, security, media, and critical manufacturing companies, continue to operate. All businesses must enhance sanitation procedures, ensure social distancing measures, provide protective equipment to employees, and encourage work from home whenever possible. Non-work related gatherings remain banned if participants cannot maintain proper distancing; all residents are encouraged to maintain at least 1.8 meters (six feet) from people outside of their households.

Transport and business disruptions are likely. Officials could amend restrictions at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Confirm appointments. Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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