‘I feel perfectly safe eating in a restaurant’: Lt. Gov. Ainsworth recommends some businesses could open immediately

Help for small business in West Alabama
Help for small business in West Alabama
Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 12:47 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBRC) - Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth and State Rep. Danny Garrett (R - Trussville) held a news conference to reopen Alabama responsibly.

Governor Ivey asked the Small Business Commission, which is statutorily led by Ainsworth, to submit recommendations for safely reopening businesses, restoring commerce, and recharging Alabama’s economy while, at the same time, protecting the public health.

Friday, April 17, the commission turned their recommendations into Governor Ivey.

Garrett said the priority is to protect people’s health, but he said there are stark financial statistics, for example, 300,000 people have filed for unemployment since March in Alabama.

Millions of dollars have been lost since the stay at home order.

Garrett said small businesses want to reopen, but they want to protect people first. There were three questions the Small Business Commission asked business owners in their survey about reopening.

1 - What will you do to protect employees?

2 - What will you do to protect customers?

3 - What will you do to stop the spread of COVID-19?

Garrett said the main things that will be considered are social distancing, limiting the numbers of people in a store at one time, and enhancing the efforts on cleanliness and sanitization.

Lt. Governor Ainsworth says he believes these places could reopen immediately:

  • Retail stores - they should be able to operate at 50 percent capacity with check out lines clearly marked. Doors and exits will have regular sanitization measures.
  • Ainsworth and Garrett believe there’s a way to open restaurants as well, immediately. Make sure there is 6 feet apart seating, limit to 6 guests per table and make sure all surfaces are cleaned regularly. Right now, bars are not included in this list.
  • Hair salons, nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors, salons - all employees required to wear masks - no customers in waiting areas - by appointment only
  • Child care facilities- follow CDC guidelines, including 11 children in a facility at one time

These businesses are recommended to reopen May 1

May 1 - medical services, doctors, dentists, optometry

  • Race tracks, entertainment venues, museums, theaters - 35 percent capacity , taking employees’ temperatures, sanitize regularly - keep people 6 feet apart
  • Gyms, exercise facilities - social distancing - sanitize regularly
  • Beaches reopening to recreational activities

Garrett and Ainsworth say what Alabama is recommending and doing fits nicely with President Trump’s guidance on reopening.

Ainsworth says if you don’t feel safe don’t go to businesses, but he thinks Alabama businesses need a chance to reopen and try and make a living.

Ivey has said the plans to reopen will be weighed alongside the recommendations of State Public Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and other medical professionals working to ensure that COVID-19 numbers continue to stabilize and decline.

"I appreciate the work that Lt. Governor Ainsworth and our Small Business Commission did in coming up with these recommendations. I’ve already sent this report to the Executive Committee of the Coronavirus Task Force, which I created, and I know they will begin looking at these suggestions and start plugging them in, where appropriate, as we weigh all our options about opening up the economy.

Here is Ivey’s statement:

“On a call with the president and vice president yesterday, President Trump made it clear that this will be a gradual process, even as he said that our nation’s governors will be responsible for leading these efforts and that his Administration will continue to stand by us as we do this.

“Consistent with what we’ve been saying all along, the president made it clear that the return to “normal” won’t be a quick or simple process. We will need to see declining cases – and stronger testing – over at least 14-days – to make certain we don’t see a return in the spike up of the infection.

“In addition to the report from the Small Business Commission, I also look forward receiving reports from our seven Members of Congress by the middle of next week. We’re also getting feedback from the mayors of our 10 largest cities – as well as a lot of other good suggestions – and our Executive Committee is already looking into many different ideas and plans. No good idea will be tossed aside, but even as we look at every way we can to reopen the economy, we’re going to need to continue to maintain social distancing and other health measures to ensure the virus doesn’t flare up again.

“Again, I appreciate the work of the lt. governor and this Commission, and I’m very grateful so many Alabamians have rallied behind our efforts to keep people safe. Because of the efforts of the people of Alabama, I am confident we have saved lives, which will help us immeasurably as we strive to get Alabama back to work."

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