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.
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.
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.
Healthcare: Hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and other health care services
Food: Grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores, carry-out or delivery restaurants
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.
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.
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.
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.