1. Coronavirus Disease Response and Information

Coronavirus Stay at Home Order

The State of Alabama has issued a “Stay at Home” Public Health Order requiring individuals to remain in place at home with exceptions for essential work and activities. When conducting an allowed activity, people must maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing. The order is in effect from 5 p.m. April 4 through 5 p.m. April 30, or extended to further contain the spread of COVID-19 in Huntsville and Madison County.

Read the Public Health Order
Spanish Version

What You Need to Know

It’s important to know that this is NOT a mandatory lockdown. The State Health Order asks that all Huntsville/Madison County residents avoid nonessential outings and stay inside as much as possible to contain the spread of COVID-19.

It’s still fine to leave your home to buy groceries, go for a run, walk the dog, pick up medicine, visit a doctor or travel to and from work (if designated as an essential business or operation).

Additional documentation, beyond regular ID requirements for transportation, is NOT necessary for travel to essential activities or businesses.

NOTE:  This Order is subject to modification so please check back frequently to ensure you have the latest version. If you have additional questions, please contact the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Essential Activities

The Order prohibits nonessential activities, social gatherings, restaurant dining, and visiting bars, entertainment venues or gyms and fitness centers. The Order allows for essential activities including going to the grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants for take-out, receiving medical care, or taking your pet for a walk.

Examples of essential activities include:

Health and safety: obtaining healthcare, emergency services, medical supplies, or medications

Necessary supplies and services: obtaining groceries and food, pet food, and supplies necessary for staying at home or working from home

Outdoor activity and exercise: engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, biking or running provided that individuals maintain at least six feet of social distancing

Essential work and services: performing work at an essential business, which includes all services needed to ensure the continuing operation of critical infrastructure to maintain the health, safety and welfare of the public

Care for others: caring for a family member, the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons in another household

Essential Businesses and Operations

Under the Order, essential businesses and operations must comply with social distancing requirements. This includes retail establishments such as grocery stores, establishing controls that require a minimum of six feet of distance between patrons in lines queuing in front of and inside stores. See section 2 of the Order for more details.

Examples of essential businesses include: Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, veterinary offices and other healthcare services.

Examples of businesses that may continue operations if work is performed within guidelines established by the State Department of Health.

  • Childcare facilities providing services that enable essential employees to continue performing their essential work duties
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Critical infrastructure including energy, water, solid waste collection and other governmental services
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences and other essential businesses
  • Businesses that provide necessities of life for economically disadvantaged individuals and shelter facilities
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food, and goods directly to residences
  • Roles required for any Essential Business to “maintain basic operations,” which include security, payroll, and similar activities

Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals

#1: Why is there a Stay At Home Order?

There is substantial community transmission of the virus, which is easily spread between people. Many people who have it don’t have symptoms or have mild symptoms. But they can easily spread the virus even if they don’t feel very bad. Some who get the virus, especially those over 60 years old, those who have weak immune systems, and those with various medical conditions, can end up with serious complications and could need medical intervention such as oxygen or help breathing.

Because the virus spreads so easily, without intervention like this Order, many more people could need medical attention, placing an additional strain on our hospital system. We may not have enough beds or equipment to adequately care for the most seriously ill. It is critical that we do everything in our power to slow down the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve” to avoid overwhelming our health care system. If this succeeds, it means that there will be health care available for those who get sick with COVID-19 or who need emergency medical care for accidents, heart attacks, strokes, and other serious medical conditions.

You may leave home only to do “essential activities” allowed by the order. For example, you can go get “necessary” services or supplies, and you can help other people (or pets!) get these necessary services or supplies. You can also go to work in some circumstances. There are a few other “essential activities” listed in the order; most are addressed in some way on this FAQ.

The order gives several examples of necessary services and supplies—for example, food, pharmaceuticals, gas for your car, and emergency medical care. In each case, the services and supplies must be “necessary” for a person’s (or a pet’s) safety, sanitation, or daily routine. But remember: Always ask yourself whether going somewhere, even for “necessary” supplies and services, would increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. If you can delay, delay.

Generally, you may go outside as long as you stay six feet apart from other people—and never congregate in a group of 10 or more people. But some outside activities are specifically prohibited—including spectator sports, sports that involve interaction within 6 feet of another person, activities that require the use of shared equipment, and commercial or public playground equipment. In short, keep exercising and go outside—but avoid activities that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Yes. You may go to work if your workplace is one of the many “essential businesses and operations” listed in the order. Even if your work is not listed as “essential,” you may also go to work if doing so would allow your employer to “maintain” its value (for example, providing security or managing inventory), or if doing so would allow other people to work or shop remotely (including drive-by, curbside, and delivery), or if doing so would require no regular interaction within six feet of another person.

Healthcare: Hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and other health care services

Food: Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores, carry-out or delivery restaurants
Veterinary Clinics
Hardware Stores
Gas Stations
Laundromats/laundry services

View the complete Public Health Order HERE

Yes, you may attend these services, but only in limited circumstances. A service can proceed in person if it involves fewer than 10 people spaced at least six feet apart from one another. Or, it can be a “drive-in” service where people remain in cars with other people from their household—spaced six feet away from people in other cars. To help prevent COVID-19 transmission, every effort should be made to conduct these services through remote participation.

It depends. People can go to work for an “essential” business or if they will have no regular interaction within six feet of another person. So it may be legal to provide some of these services at your home, especially lawn services. (“Home health workers and aides” are specifically listed as essential.) But always ask, “is this a good idea”? If you can delay the service, delay it.

All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or dwelling unit is prohibited, with exception to essential activities and essential work or members of a household or dwelling unit. Caring for a family member, the elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons in another household is considered an essential activity and is not impacted by the Order.

Yes, the order allows people to leave home to travel as required by court order, including specifically the “transportation of children as required by a custody agreement.” You may also visit family, as long as it’s at their place of residence.

The order does not prohibit any method of travel. But remember: You should make every effort to avoid situations that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Your emotional needs are important and if you are worried or upset, there is help. You may be feeling anxiety and worry, sleeping troubles, over or under eating, or sadness and depressed mood. If you have any of these symptoms, please call the local Crisis Services 211 Hotline. Another resource is the National Alliance for Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or text NAMI to 741741, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

More information in City Blog: 6 tips for taking care of your mental health during COVID-19

Download the FAQs for Individuals HERE

Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses

#1 May I continue operating my business?

It depends. Under the order, people may leave home for certain work-related reasons, such as to work for one of the many listed “essential business and operations.” People can also leave home to help any business “maintain” its value (e.g., security, payroll, inventory), to enable other people to work or shop remotely (including curbside pickup or delivery), or if their work requires no regular interaction within six feet of another person. Some businesses, however—the entertainment venues, athletic facilities, and “close contact” service providers listed in paragraph 5—are specifically closed to nonemployees.

Please refer to the list of essential businesses and operations in Section 2 of the Order. Note especially that Section 2 incorporates this list of essential infrastructure from the federal government.

As previously stated in these FAQs and in Section 1 of the Order, people may leave home to get “necessary” services and supplies. Taken together, these rules can be boiled down to this: “You can always deliver. And if the customer can leave their house for it, you can meet them at the curb.”

It depends. As mentioned above in FAQ #2, people can leave home to work if they will have no regular interaction within six feet of another person. So home cleaning services and lawn services conceivably may continue to operate. If you provide a service that requires customers to leave their homes, remember that they may leave only to get “necessary” services as defined in paragraph 1 of the order.

Yes, if your business truly becomes an essential business or operation. But if you try to circumvent the order without fully becoming an essential business or operation, then you are in violation of the order and will face criminal liability.

Essential businesses and operations must take “all reasonable steps” to avoid gatherings of 10 or more persons. They also must take “all reasonable steps” to keep customers and employees six feet apart from one another. Beyond that, “essential retailers”—for example, grocery stores, pharmacies, and “big box” stores—must implement a 50% “emergency maximum occupancy rate,” keep customers six feet apart, and follow sanitation guidelines from public health authorities. For details, see paragraph 6 of the order. And remember: Even if your business may continue operating, you are always encouraged to go above and beyond the requirements of the order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Child day care facilities may continue to operate if 12 or more children are not allowed in a room or other enclosed space at the same time. These facilities are encouraged to use enhanced sanitation and social distancing practices consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

No, the government will not be issuing credentials. But you can do so, if you would like to. The decision whether to issue credentials to your employees is left up to you.

This order will be enforced by Huntsville area law enforcement, City of Huntsville Natural Resources and the City of Huntsville Fire Marshal. Violations of these orders are a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 per offense. Additional penalties apply if the offense continues.

To report a concern, email Contact@HuntsvilleAL.gov.

Download the FAQs for Businesses HERE

Take these simple steps to remain healthy
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use social distancing (six feet)
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe

COVID19 handwashing poster