Alabama 1st District U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne on Wednesday released the final report from the Economic Recovery Task Force he established at the request of Governor Kay Ivey to provide recommendations to reopen the local economy.
The task force includes representatives from all six counties in the First Congressional District and from a wide range of business and other perspectives.
Task Force topline recommendations
- A clear timeline, objectives, and protections are necessary to instill confidence in consumers and business owners alike during a phased reopening of the economy.
- Governor Ivey should announce the reopening timeline by Friday, April 24 to give businesses time to make the necessary arrangements. Advance notice is also important as it provides time needed to fully inform and educate the public of the upcoming changes.
- Subject to Phase 1 under the Opening Up America Again Guidelines, the following should occur:
- Retail and personal services businesses should be permitted to reopen beginning on May 1.
- Restaurants can reopen for in-house dining beginning May 1.
- Beaches can reopen beginning May 1.
- Self-enforcement and reporting will be key. Closures should be implemented on an individual basis for businesses/organizations who fail to comply with guidelines instead of punishing an entire industry or community.
- Preparations should begin immediately to ensure local law enforcement and health department officials are prepared to handle oversight and complaints related to noncompliant businesses.
- The state must prioritize expanding testing capability and efficiency, increasing testing opportunities to include those with minor or no symptoms and working with employers to ensure access to workforce contract tracing.
- The state must continue boosting the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), for both medical and other uses.
- The state must continue making improvements to ensure better and more timely reporting on the status of testing in order to provide a better and more realistic understanding of the evolution of the virus and the health care community’s response. If more authority is needed to collect testing information from providers, the state legislature should act to give that authority.
- The state needs to boost mental health programs as Alabamians cope with the societal, economic, and personal impact of this pandemic.
“While efforts to fight the coronavirus are ongoing, it is critical to make informed preparations to begin safely reopening our local economy,” said Byrne. “The recommendations from our task force are the result of input from leaders of diverse backgrounds throughout our district and prioritize the need to provide clear and concise guidance to the public while holding businesses to the same reasonable standards regardless of their size.”
He continued, “Even as we begin talking about reopening portions of the economy, that does not mean we can relax the necessary distancing and hygiene requirements like wearing a cloth mask in public and washing our hands thoroughly. By continuing to fight this virus together, Southwest Alabama will weather this storm.”