Friday morning the state of Alabama ordered all “nonessential” businesses to close until April 17 in order to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), becoming the latest in a growing number of states to order similar closures.
Gov. Kay Ivey made the announcement during a news conference after the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed more than 580 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths statewide. There, she explained that all non-work related gatherings of 10 people or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited in the Yellowhammer State.
“This decision has not been made lightly, but has been made with a tremendous amount of concern and discussion,” said Ivey. “This is incredibly disappointing news to deliver, but this is a matter of life and death.”
Ivey’s decision comes in the wake of her Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth criticizing the state’s response to the virus. On Wednesday, Ainsworth sent a memo to Alabama’s COVID-19 Response Team in which he explained he does not believe the task force has taken a “realistic review” of what lies ahead and “doubts” the state’s preparations.
The closures are scheduled to take effect on Saturday, March 28 at 5 p.m.