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Alabama Closes Nonessential Businesses Statewide

March 30, 2020

On March 27, 2020, Alabama issued an Order closing “nonessential businesses” to non-employees statewide until April 17, 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The Order also addresses social distancing measures and emphasizes the “importance of staying home.”  The Order echoes the State’s previous orders with certain modifications.  This Order also goes a step further, closing “nonessential businesses” to non-employees from Saturday, March 28 at 5 p.m. until Friday, April 17 at 5 p.m.

Businesses deemed nonessential in the Order are categorized into entertainment venues, athletic facilities, close contact and cosmetic services, and retail stores. Each of these categories contain specifically enumerated types of businesses as follows:

Entertainment venues:

  • Night clubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Arcades
  • Concert venues
  • Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
  • Tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums)
  • Racetracks
  • Indoor children’s play areas
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls
  • Venues operated by social clubs

Athletic facilities and activities:

  • Fitness centers and commercial gyms
  • Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
  • Yoga, barre, and spin facilities
  • Spectator sports
  • Sports that involve interaction with another person of closer than 6 feet
  • Activities that require use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
  • Activities on commercial or public playground equipment

Close-contact service providers:

  • Barber shops
  • Hair salons
  • Waxing salons
  • Threading salons
  • Nail salons and spas
  • Body-art facilities and tattoo services
  • Tanning salons
  • Massage-therapy establishments and massage services

Retail stores:

  • Furniture and home-furnishings stores
  • Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
  • Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Book, craft, and music stores

“If your business is NOT on the nonessential list, your business is NOT closed,” said Governor Ivey.  If a business that is not listed as nonessential remains open, then employers should take all reasonable steps to meet social distancing and hygiene requirements that the State has mentioned before. In yesterday’s press conference, reference was also made to the possibility of exemptions.

While the Order states nonessential businesses are closed to non-employees, the Alabama Department of Public Health has clarified that nonessential businesses may continue curbside and delivery services provided the store complies with the Order’s social distancing provisions.

The Order mandates that all restaurants, bars, breweries, or similar establishments shall not permit on-premises consumption of food or drink. Restaurants, bars, breweries or similar establishments are permitted to offer take out, provided social distancing measures protocols including a six-foot distance between persons is maintained. Such establishments are also strongly encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pick-up of food. The Order excludes hospital food service areas from this mandate provided they have their own social distancing plan.

The Order also mandates the following:

  • All non-work related gatherings of 10 persons or more are prohibited;
  • All non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons are prohibited;
  • Employers shall take all reasonable steps in the workplace to minimize the size of gatherings to less than ten persons and to maintain a six-foot distance between persons;
  • All beaches abutting the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico, including beach access points, shall remain closed;
  • All Senior Citizen Centers and programs shall remain closed while assuring clients continue to receive meals via curbside pick-up or delivery;
  • All public, private, post-secondary, technical and specialty schools shall remain closed;
  • All preschools and childcare centers shall be closed except those “operated for the exclusive benefit of essential employees” such as government workers, hospitals, fire, police, long-term care, pharmacies, and grocery stores;
  • All hospitals and long-term care facilities shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and nonessential health care personnel, except compassion care visitors (maternity & end of life); and
  • All dental, medical, or surgical procedures shall be delayed subject to two exceptions (1) those necessary to treat an “emergency medical condition” and (2) those necessary to avoid serious harm from an underlying condition or disease or as necessary as part of a patient’s ongoing and active treatment.

Emergency medical procedures are defined in the Order as a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain, psychiatric disturbances, and/or symptoms of substance abuse) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected by a person’s licensed medical provider to result in placing the health of the person in serious jeopardy or causing serious impairment to bodily functions or serious dysfunction of bodily organs. In yesterday’s Press Conference, Scott Harris: “We do not have an established list of what is and is not elective. We do not have blanket authorization given to any facility. Be able to be determined in the clinical judgment of the provider providing these services.”

Exemptions may also be available to organizers or sponsors of otherwise suspended events. The criteria for an exemption are outlined in the Order.

Fines for a violation of the Order are up to $500.00.

The Order supersedes and preempts all previous orders issued by the State or local county health officers.

Impacted businesses can apply for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans.  This program offers low-interest loans for businesses suffering economic injury as a result of COVID-19.  Other small business guidance and loan resources can be found on the SBA’s website.

Additionally, Birmingham businesses can apply for the Birmingham Strong Emergency Loan Fund.  This program provides zero-interest, 180-day loans to businesses with less than 50 employees. The loans average $10,000 but are no more than $25,000.

The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce also has both national and local resources for businesses.  Mobile businesses can also update their listing on the Local Business Operations & Temporary Closures by completing this form.

A copy of Alabama’s Order can be found here.


We are available to address your individual circumstances and questions.

Alex Wood at 251-445-4715 or awood@starneslaw.com

Catherine Kirkland at 251-445-4720 or ckirkland@starneslaw.com

Averie Armstead at 205-868-6043 or aarmstead@starneslaw.com


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