Gov. Kay Ivey extend the state’s Safer at Home order until Dec. 11. Ivey said that the amended order attempts to balance public health concerns with economic impact in the state.
"More than 3,000 Alabamians have died from this virus," said Ivey during a press conference Thursday. "No one is immune."
The amended Safer at Home order, which takes effect immediately, will roll back the occupancy restrictions regarding retail establishments to their pre-pandemic levels, but continues to require social distancing and sanitation requirements.
Restaurants may increase their capacity if they install "impermeable barriers" between patrons that allow for more effective social distancing measures.
“If you mask up and social distance you can increase occupancy in your businesses,” said Ivey regarding the adjustments to the mask order.
Close contact service providers — businesses such as barber shops, nail salons and gyms — will be allowed similar restrictions to restaurants if they do the same will be permitted to increase.
"We are seeing an increase in number of cases," stated Dr. Scott Harris Alabama's top public health official adding that the state "had a plateau from mid-August to the middle of October and began to see an increase over the last few weeks."
Alabama added over 1,151 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday alone, approaching single day highs for individual cases and Jackson County has averaged an addition 21 cases each day in the last 7 days.
“I am willing to keep the mask mandate in place while acknowledging that sooner rather than later it’s going to be up to each of us to do the right thing, regardless whether the government tells you to or not,” said Ivey.
The governor said that the decision was partially motivated by rising case numbers in Alabama, though she hopes that the order will eventually be changed from a mandate to guidance.
When asked why she was lifting certain restrictions while cases continue to increase, Ivey cited economic concerns, and that potentially case increases were due to a lack of adherence to the current guidelines.
Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama's top public health official, stated that there have been 22,000 new cases — roughly 10% of Alabama's total COVID-19 cases — have been reported within the last 14 days.
Harris also noted that there are now more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases in Alabama, a number that represents 4% of the State's total population have tested positive for the virus.
Both Ivey and Harris stated that they are concerned with this increase in cases, but unlike other states Alabama has not yet reached the previous high for hospitalizations which occurred in July of this year.
Currently, according to Harris, there are roughly 1,000 patients in Alabama with COVID-19.
Harris also emphasized that when he was contacted by members of the AHSAA, that the order would not impact any state athletic competition.
The state health officer also noted that issues with the state's reporting of Coronavirus cases has led to an appearance of increase in cases where they are not; however, some local officials in Jackson County have criticized how the state department of health's dissemination of data makes it difficult to craft local responses to the virus.
"I would like to once again thank the people of Alabama," said Ivey. "We are listening to you and we are trying to best understand your concerns and make the best decisions humanly possible."