By Morgan Bryce

Nearly four weeks after issuing a statewide stay-at-home order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Kay Ivey held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce her plans to help reopen portions of Alabama’s economy.
Flanked by members of her Coronavirus Task Force, Ivey said the state’s current Stay-at-Home order will expire on April 30 at 5 p.m. and will be replaced by a Safer-at-Home order that will expire on May 15.
“If it had not been for the people of Alabama abiding by the regulations and guidelines for their sacrifices, their patience and their understanding during the last six weeks (this would not have been possible). What our citizens have done is working,” Ivey said.
Dr. Scott Harris with the Alabama Department of Public Health followed Ivey, reporting that the state has seen a flattening of the curve and an average of 200 new cases daily with a much lower than expected death rate.
“We’re also very pleased at how hospitals have been able to preserve their capacity. They have not had ventilator shortages like we had previously thought they might,” Harris said. “We do have adequate ICU beds and the ability to care for people within the four walls of a hospital.”
“Let me be abundantly clear. The threat of COVID-19 is not over,” Ivey added. “We’re still seeing the virus spread and all of our people are open to infection. Folks, we must continue to be vigilant in our social distancing (guidelines) today and into the future.”
Some businesses, including retail, will be allowed to reopen to open under this new order but will be required to maintain social distancing guidelines and vigilant sanitary procedures and operate at a 50% occupancy rate. Beaches will reopen to the public, but municipalities in those areas will be expected to strictly enforce social distancing guidelines, schools will stay closed to “in-person instruction” under the order and restaurants must maintain their current take-out or curbside delivery options for patrons.
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Listed below are other details of the order, including new updates, what is staying the same and what businesses are still closed.
New Updates:
-Individuals are encouraged to stay home and follow good sanitation practices
-Employers may open subject to sanitation and social-distancing guidelines; certain higher-risk businesses and activities remain closed
Medical procedures are allowed unless prohibited in the future by the State Health Officer to preserve resources necessary to diagnose and treat COVID-19; providers must follow COVID-19-related rules and guidance from state regulatory boards or public health authorities
What’s Staying the Same:
Non-work gatherings are still limited to fewer than 10 persons with six feet of distancing between persons. “Drive-in” gatherings still permitted if participants stay in cars with people from their own households
Programming at senior citizen centers will stay suspended except meals still available through curbside pick-up or delivery
Child daycare facilities must not allow 12 or more children in a room
Hospitals and nursing homes still must implement policies to restrict visitation
Still Closed:
Entertainment venues, including bowling alleys, movie theaters and night clubs
Athletic activities and facilities, including commercial gyms and fitness centers
Close-contact service providers, including barber shops, hair and nail salons and tattoo parlors.
The Observer has reached out to Mayor Gary Fuller and is awaiting comment on how the order will impact Opelika. Follow us for more information and updates on how these developments will affect us locally.