Alabama will begin reopening economy in phases, won't extend stay-at home order: governor

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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Tuesday the state will begin reopening the economy in a series of phases beginning Thursday at 5 p.m., easing restrictions set in place to limit the impact of the coronavirus.

Once the stay-at-home order expires April 30, Alabama will then transition to a so-called “safer-at-home” order, allowing some non-essential business to reopen provided they adhere to stringent sanitization and social distancing measures.

Retail stores will be permitted to operate at 50 percent occupancy, and beaches can reopen in a limited capacity along Alabama’s shoreline as long as people keep six feet apart and gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.

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Kimmy Tillery, a hairdresser from Tuscaloosa, Ala., holds a sign during a protest to reopen Alabama's economy outside the Capitol in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)

Kimmy Tillery, a hairdresser from Tuscaloosa, Ala., holds a sign during a protest to reopen Alabama's economy outside the Capitol in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)

Bars and restaurants, however, are still limited to curbside takeout or delivery. Schools will continue online instruction.

Other non-essential businesses, including theaters, night clubs, fitness centers, gyms, barbershops, hair and nail salons, have been instructed to remain shut for the time being.

The "safe-at-home" order is scheduled to expire on May 15. Officials will continue to monitor the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in Alabama over the next few weeks before Ivey decides whether the state will advance to the next goal phase dubbed “Safer Apart.”

After deferring to local governments for weeks, Ivey, a Republican, issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 4, closing all non-essential business. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended states witness a downward trajectory in new coronavirus infections for at least 14 days before lifting lockdown measures.

ALABAMA BARBERSHOP TO REOPEN DEFYING CORONAVIRUS STAY-AT-HOME ORDER TO SAVE BUSINESS

Since then, Ivey has been facing mounting pressure to reopen the state’s economy. More than 306,000 Alabamans have filed for unemployment within the past month, state Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said, according to WBMA-LD in Birmingham.

A congressional advisory committee formed by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who is a member of Ivey’s own state coronavirus task force, submitted its report to the governor earlier this month, calling on her to immediately rescind the stay-at-home order responsible for "collapsing economy, huge job losses, closed businesses (many of which can never be revived), and lost incomes."

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Last week, more than 100 lockdown protesters drove by the state Capitol building in Montgomery, honking their horns and displaying signs calling for the governor to reopen the economy. A smaller group of protesters, some but not all of whom wearing masks, also stood outside on the lawn appearing to keep apart and honor other social distancing guidelines.

Alabama, as of Tuesday, recorded at least 6,499 confirmed coronavirus cases, with at least 222 deaths, according to the state Department of Health.