Gov. Kay Ivey issued an amended safer-at-home order Thursday, which allows entertainment venues, schools and child care facilities to open with restrictions, despite rising COVID- 19 cases throughout the state.

“It’s not realistic to think that we can keep everyone totally isolated from each other forever,” Ivey said.

The new order also allows athletic activities, such as youth and adult sports, to resume and summer camps to open with restrictions.

Child care facilities were previously held to a maximum amount of children allowed to be at the facility.

The amended order has no such limit but does require facilities to practice social distancing, use high sanitation practices and have employees wear masks or facial coverings.

The order goes into effect at 5 p.m. today and expire at 5 p.m. July 3.

Ivey said that despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state, the economic toll of the pandemic on the state is also important.

“Standing by and letting our businesses collapse while we’ve got hundreds of thousands of folks that are hurting and suffering is not an option,” she said. “We’ve got to keep our businesses open and keep our people working.

“You’ve got to have a balance between looking after the people’s health and also the economic health. It has to be a balance.”

Although restrictions are easing, Ivey reminds the state that COVID-19 remains a serious threat.

“This disease is deadly and it is not something that we can take lightly,” she said.

The numbersAlabama has seen an increase of COVID-19 cases by an average of more than 300 per day over the past several days, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health data.

“Our numbers are not as good as we hoped,” Ivey said.

There were 13,119 confirmed cases and 529 related COVID-19 deaths in Alabama as of 4 p.m. Thursday, according to ADPH.

Locally, there were 331 confirmed cases in Chambers County, 463 in Lee County, 59 in Macon County, 115 in Russell County and 380 in Tallapoosa County as of 4 p.m. Thursday.

There also were 23 deaths related to COVD_19 reported in Chambers County, 32 in Lee County, two in Macon County and 59 in Tallapoosa County, according to ADPH.

Hospitalizations between East Alabama Medical Center and EAMC-Lanier continue to fluctuate. There were 27 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 between the two campuses Thursday, according to hospital data.

On Thursday, total hospitalizations were up by seven patients from Wednesday when there were 20 patients hospitalized, according to EAMC.

State health officer Dr. Scott Harris said there are several COVID- 19 hot spots in the state, including Montgomery. Although there are no hot spots in east Alabama, he expects COVID-19 hot spots to rotate.

“I think what we anticipate going forward over the next few months is that we will have these rotating hot spots,” he said. “We may have lower levels of transmission going on in different places but we will continue to see places where we get a surge from time to time.”

Personal responsibilityAlabama’s amended safer-at-home order relies on the idea of personal responsibility.

“Personal responsibility is the heart of everything that we’re trying to do,” Harris said. “Reopening Alabama only really works if we all cooperate.”

Personal responsibility means practicing social distancing, washing hands, using good sanitation measures and wearing a face covering while in public places, according to Harris.

“All those things are the way you take care of the people in your own family and in your own community,” he said.

However, Harris reminds Alabamians that the newest health order is still a safer-at-home order, which means it’s still safer to remain at home.

“This still is a safer-at-home order and we want to emphasize that,” Harris said. “We believe people are safer at home to the extent that’s feasible. “

Ivey stated that the way to keep Alabama open for business is for everyone to practice personal responsibility.

“It takes all of us being vigilant and adhering to the social distancing guidelines in order to stop the spread of this disease,” she said.

Sports

Athletic activities may begin at 5 p.m. Friday. However, until June 14, participation in team athletic activities is limited to practices that involve conditioning, skill drills and similar activities.

Participation in team athletic activities may begin, subject to rules, June 15, according to the order.

Athletic activities must comply with the following rules under the order:

Players, coaches, officials and spectators may not congregate within 6 feet of a person from another household except to the extent necessary — and only to the extent necessary — for players, coaches and officials to directly participate in the athletic activity.

Players, coaches, officials and spectators cannot high-five, shake hands or make other physical contact except to the extent necessary — and only to the extent necessary — for players, coaches and officials to directly participate in the athletic activity.

Players, coaches and officials must wear a mask or other facial covering at all times except when a player or official is directly participating in the athletic activity.

Players, coaches and officials cannot share water coolers, drinking stations, water bottles, cups or other drinking devices. Organizers of athletic activities must take reasonable steps, where practicable, to regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.

Rules for venues

Venues such as bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing centers, tourist attractions, race tracks, commercial or public playgrounds, adult entertainment venues, casinos and bingo halls are allowed to open under the amended order.

Entertainment venues must comply with the following rules under the order:

Employees may not knowingly allow patrons or guests to congregate within 6 feet of a person from another household.

Employees must take reasonable steps to prevent people from congregating in lobby areas, break rooms and other common areas.

Indoor and enclosed entertainment venues must limit occupancy to 50 percent of the normal occupancy load.

Outdoor venues or those not assigned a normal occupancy load must limit occupancy as required to comply with the distancing requirements.

Each employee must wear a mask or other facial covering at all times while in regular interaction with clients or guests.

The venue must take reasonable steps, where practicable, to regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.

Schools

All schools, including elementary, secondary, post-secondary, technical, specialty schools and colleges and universities, may open June 1, with restrictions, according to the order.

Schools must comply with the following rules under the order:

Schools must take reasonable steps, where practicable, to maintain 6 feet of separation between persons of different households.

Schools must take reasonable steps, where practicable, to regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.

Employees must, to the greatest extent practicable, wear a mask or other facial covering at all times when in regular interaction within 6 feet of a person from a different household.

Summer camps

Day and overnight youth summer camps may begin May 23 under the new order, but they must comply with the following rules:

Employees may not knowingly allow campers or guests to congregate within 6 feet of a person from another household.

Camps must take reasonable steps to regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.

Employees must, to the greatest extent possible, wear a mask or face covering at all time when in regular interaction with campers or guests.

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