Ivey relents, orders Alabama residents to stay home to limit coronavirus spread

Published 4:40 pm Friday, April 3, 2020

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday ordered residents statewide to stay home except for essential trips, work and a few other things starting Saturday.

The order, released during an afternoon news conference at the Capitol, allows people to leave home to get medicine, health care, food and other essentials. It also allows church services, weddings and funerals as long as long fewer than 10 people are present and they stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart.

Anyone can still visit relatives provided social distancing guidelines are followed, and travel for the purpose of caring for other people and pets is allowed. Outdoor exercise also is allowed under the order.

Earlier, the city of Mobile joined Birmingham in ordering residents to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 20 people in Alabama.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson signed an order requiring residents to remain home in most cases unless they have essential jobs in fields including health care and public safety. He also imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew beginning Saturday in the port city.

“We certainly don’t take this lightly. It’s something that we’ve been considering for several days, but it’s only now that we feel like we’ve gotten all the information we need to do this and do it in the proper fashion,” Stimpson said in a video posted on Twitter.

Birmingham, meanwhile, extended its shelter-in-place order through the end of April, with Mayor Randall Woodfin warning city parks would be closed if residents didn’t comply with restrictions to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) between individuals and use public spaces only for exercise.

“Don’t go out except for essentials,” Woodfin said.

The cities have a combined population estimated at more than 740,000.

Although Ivey had refused to issue a statewide order requiring residents to remain at home, the state previously banned non-work gatherings of 10 or more people, and non-essential businesses including entertainment venues, fitness centers and salons were ordered to close.

Republican governors in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia previously reversed course and issued stay-home directives after resisting statewide orders.

More than 1,400 people have tested positive in Alabama for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and 35 deaths have been reported in the state. Health officials said 21 of those have been confirmed as being linked to the illness.

The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.