MONTGOMERY, AL — Restaurants, barber shops and more small businesses will be allowed to reopen in Alabama on Monday as Gov. Kay Ivey amended the “stay-at-home” order while also extending it until May 22. Although cases of COVID-19 continue to spread, Ivey said at a Friday news conference she believes opening this phase of local businesses can help the economy recover and — with social distancing — can prevent another outbreak.

“I want to thank every Alabamian for doing their part to help us combat this awful virus,” Ivey said. “I know it has been tough on y’all, but it ain’t been a picnic for me either.”

The new order goes into effect May 11:

Under the amended order:

  • Churches may reopen and hold services but with social distancing guidelines

  • Restaurants can open at 50 percent occupancy rate.

  • Barber shops and salons, will be able to open with social distancing restrictions

  • Gyms, athletic facilities may open, but with social distancing guidelines.

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“Let me be crystal clear. The threat of this disease continues to be active, and it is deadly,” Ivey said. “These openings still require social distancing.”

State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said transmission of COVID-19 continues. “It is more important than ever people understand the need to maintain social distancing and personal hygiene,” he said. “If you’re a person who’s older or has chronic health problems please limit your travel and think carefully about those trips and protect yourself as much as you can.”

Ivey also added new updates to the statewide COVID-19 State of Emergency, including protections for health care workers, protections for businesses and extending the public health emergency by 60 days. This is a separate order than Ivey’s “safer-at-home” order that is set to expire May 15.

The order can be read here.

  • The order protects health care providers from a frivolous lawsuit based on actions they took or failed to take as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The order protects businesses from frivolous lawsuits when they conduct COVID-19 testing or distribute PPE to help protect people from COVID-19.

  • Importantly, the order in no way shields these groups from claims of egregious misconduct. Claims based on egregious misconduct would be allowed to proceed.

The order is based on two aspects of the Emergency Management Act:

  • The Act itself grants immunity in certain instances where people or companies are trying to comply with the state’s emergency orders.

  • The Act also gives the governor power to take steps necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the public. Like the other governors who have extended these protections, Governor Ivey certainly believes that these reasonable, common-sense protections for these groups will promote the safety and security of the general public.


This article originally appeared on the Birmingham Patch