MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A committee tasked with determining a plan for Alabama businesses to reopen safely has come up with a series of recommendations for Gov. Kay Ivey.
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and Rep. Danny Garrett detailed some of the recommendations Friday morning in Montgomery.
Under the recommendations, people would be able to return to Alabama beaches in a limited capacity by the beginning of May.
On May 1, people would be able to visit the beach for exercise and fishing. By May 10, people would be allowed to have tents and chairs on the beach provided they are in groups of 10 or less, and the people in the group are residents of the county or are staying together at the beach, Ainsworth said.
“We think that can be done in a safe manner,” Ainsworth said. Enforcement would be performed by increased beach patrols similar to levels seen during spring break, he said.
Youth softball and baseball also are included in the plan, with recommendations to let kids take the field May 11. Guidelines would include children wearing masks while in the dugout and spectators practicing social distancing.
The report includes many recommendations specific to various industries, but also has guidelines that apply to all. Some of those guidelines include strictly monitoring employees’ health and putting employees who show COVID-19 symptoms on sick leave, limiting the number of people in a business at one time, limiting social interaction between employees and customers and increasing the frequency of sanitizing and cleaning.
The report also has some business-specific recommendations that include limiting cash transactions, requiring gloves and face masks and temperature checks for customers before entering some businesses.
Ivey has said the plan will be weighed alongside the recommendations of State Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and other medical professionals working to ensure that COVID-19 numbers continue to stabilize and decline. Ainsworth’s office said she expects to join Dr. Harris in issuing a new and updated State Public Health Order on or before April 28.
Ainsworth said people who don’t feel those recommendations can keep them safe should not put themselves at risk by going.
“All we’re saying is let’s give the business owners a chance to make a living, the same standards these big box stores and other places have,” he said. “And I think we can do that safely.”
Some businesses that aren’t included in the plan are places where people could gather in large numbers, like movie theaters, concerts and bars.
Ainsworth said officials would continue to work to get businesses open as soon and as safely as possible.
“This isn’t going to be a perfect plan,” Ainsworth said. “We’re learning together. We need everybody to work together to continue to improve this, but we’ve got to get our economy going and do it in a safe way.”
Friday afternoon Ivey’s office issued a statement acknowledging she had received the recommendations and forwarded them on to her coronavirus task force for consideration.
Ivey said she would also be receiving reports from Alabama’s seven members of Congress and from the mayors of the state’s 10 largest cities to help form a plan for reopening the state.
“No good idea will be tossed aside, but even as we look at every way we can to reopen the economy, we’re going to need to continue to maintain social distancing and other health measures to ensure the virus doesn’t flare up again,” she said.