State closes ‘non-essential’ businesses

Published 7:21 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

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Melanie Barnes Ross said she knew the news was coming.

“I’ve been saying it was coming for three weeks,” she said Friday, standing in the middle of her eponymous hair salon. “I just don’t know that I believe we’ll be back by April 17.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday ordered the closure of certain “non-essential” businesses in Alabama effective 5 p.m. Saturday in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The order defines affected businesses and activities as entertainment venues, athletic facilities, retail stores and close-contact service providers, such as hair salons and barber shops. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. April 17.

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“I get it,” Ross said. “We’re just as vulnerable as the people in our chair … we touch people every day, not just their hair but their lives.”

So now Ross said she will follow the order, closing the hair salon, and turn her focus to Mel’s Too, her restaurant which has been providing carry out meals for more than a week. “That just means we have to keep the deli going.”

But those decisions weren’t as easy for other businesses throughout Pike County, many of whom will close for three weeks.

“Right now we are still working the store during regular business hours but with a closed storefront and through our social media outlets. We are still shipping out,” Confetti Crate’s Mallory Morgan said Friday. “As of (Saturday) at 5:00 Pm we will no longer be able to offer the curbside pickup or local delivery as we have been. We have lots of locals who are choosing to leave their items at the store until things return to ‘normal’ and many who have went with the shipping option.

“We are extremely appreciative of the support we have had so far during this time of uncertainty and hope to continue working with our community (and beyond) with the adjustments of how our business is operating for the time being.”

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said he understands the challenges businesses face. “It’s just a difficult time and this is certainly unprecedented in our lifetimes,” he said. “Hopefully what the federal government has done (is) going to help some of these folks who are hit so hard … and we’re going to be looking at things over the next several weeks to see how we can help businesses get access to aid.

“We’re going to have to get through this and figure it out together. I don’t have any doubt that we can.”

Heath DeRamus, manager of the Troy Country Club, said the new order affects the club. The board and I are actively monitoring the situation daily,” he said. “Currently the course is open for play. We continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols to ensure appropriate social distancing, including one person per cart and a ban on removing flag sticks while putting and various other protocols. All sanitation procedures meet or exceed current CDC guidelines.”

The restaurant is open only for take-out or curbside pickup to members, but the clubhouse, lounge and pool will remain closed until April 17.

Dana Sanders, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, said the closures will be a challenge for local business and encouraged residents to continue to support these retailers and restaurants. “Small businesses need us now more than ever,” she said. “Please remember to think about shopping local and how these businesses impact our community. A few ways you could help are purchase gift cards or prepay for your next few haircuts, nail service, or massage therapy. Continue to follow these businesses on social media and shop through their websites, leaving positive feedback for those working hard to still serve you.”

Ivey on Friday said the state was ordering the closure of certain businesses, such as some retail stores, gyms and entertainment venues, as the state tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“I cannot stress to you enough the fact that we must be serious about eliminating the spread of this deadly virus. Folks this is real. It is very real,” Ivey said.

The list  of businesses being directed to shut down beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. fall into four categories: entertainment venues; athletic facilities and activities; non-essential “close-contact” service establishments and non-essential retail stores. The list of places ordered closed includes gyms, barber shops, theaters, casinos, book stores, department stores, clothing stores and nail salons. It does not include businesses such as manufacturing facilities, grocery stores and restaurants that offer take-out. Day care centers can stay open if they don’t have more than 12 children in one room.

The new state order also prohibits gatherings of 10 people or more that are not work-related where people can’t stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart. The previous limit had been 25.

The action is the state’s most aggressive action to date to try to curb the spread, but short of a “stay at home” directive that some states have done. The governor cited economic concerns for families and businesses in allowing more places to stay open.

“If we kill businesses, we can’t print enough money in Washington D.C. to bring a dead business back to life,” Ivey said.

Ivey has already shut down schools for the rest of the academic year saying students would finish the year by taking lessons at home.

All restaurants already have been ordered to end on-site dining. All beaches are closed.

Tuscaloosa and Birmingham have ordered people to stay at home unless going out for food, medicine or work at essential businesses.

“I just plead with you, take individual responsibility for yourself and your family and if you can stay at home, please do so,” Ivey said.