Ivey relaxes restrictions on some businesses in latest health order

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended the state’s safer at home order Thursday morning through Dec. 11.

The order was modified to remove emergency occupancy rates for fitness centers, gyms, entertainment venues and retailers. It also adds social distancing exceptions for businesses where people are wearing masks and separated by an impermeable barrier.

“Even as we continue to emphasize good sound help practices such as wearing a mask and social distancing, we must at the same time be able to find a proper balance of living our lives to the greatest extent we can,” Ivey said.

The rest of the order remained unchanged, including a mandate to wear masks in public and the practice of social distancing among people not from the same household.

The new version of the order goes into effect Nov. 8.

Alabama Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the barriers in businesses will not change CDC guidelines on close contacts – meaning anyone who spends 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who tests positive for coronavirus is still considered a close contact who should quarantine.

“It makes sense that that would reduce some transmission,” Harris said of the barriers. “I don’t think anyone would claim it completely reduces transmission, for sure. As I said our definition of a close contact doesn’t change just because there’s a barrier in place, but in terms of preventing droplet spread, I think it’s similar to a mask.”

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