Gov. Ivey issues supplemental state of emergency orders for Alabama during COVID-19 pandemic

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FILE-In this Wednesday, May 15, 2019 file photo released by the state shows Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signing a bill that virtually outlaws abortion in the state, in Montgomery, Ala. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, has blocked an Alabama abortion ban that would have made the procedure a felony at any stage of pregnancy in almost all cases. (Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor’s Office via AP, File)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — In the wake of the coronvirus outbreak, Gov. Kay Ivey has issued two supplemental state of emergencies for Alabama.

“I want to do everything within my authority to protect businesses as Alabama’s economy gets up and running again,” Ivey wrote in a statement released Friday. :As we resume operations, the very last thing a business owner needs to worry about is a frivolous lawsuit from responding to COVID-19. Let me be clear, this in no way shields them from serious misconduct. If someone knowingly abuses the public during a time of crisis, they should be held accountable and prosecuted as such.”

Eighth Supplemental Emergency Proclamation (Liability Protections)

  • Like other governors, Ivey is providing safe harbor to health care providers, businesses, and other entities to encourage the reopening of our State.
  • These protections recognize that we need these groups not only to get Alabama up and running again, but also to do so in a way that promotes public health and safety. To provide two examples:
    • The order protects health care providers from a frivolous lawsuit based on actions they took or failed to take as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The order protects businesses from frivolous lawsuits when they conduct COVID-19 testing or distribute PPE to help protect people from COVID-19.
  • Importantly, the order in no way shields these groups from claims of egregious misconduct. Claims based on egregious misconduct would be allowed to proceed.
  • The order is based on two aspects of the Emergency Management Act:
    • The Act itself grants immunity in certain instances where people or companies are trying to comply with the state’s emergency orders.
    • The Act also gives the governor power to take steps necessary to promote and secure the safety and protection of the public. Like the other governors who have extended these protections, Governor Ivey certainly believes that these reasonable, common-sense protections for these groups will promote the safety and security of the general public.

Ninth Supplemental Emergency Proclamation (Miscellaneous Provisions)

  • One provision allows for probate judges to improve procedures for administering the July 14 primary runoff election. For example, probate judges would be allowed to reduce the number of poll workers, if necessary. They would also be allowed to conduct poll-worker training remotely.
  • Another provision cuts red tape for electric coops seeking to obtain emergency loans. This will help insure that electrical cops are still able to provide electricity to their members during this public health emergency.
  • A final provision will extend the formal “public health emergency” for 60 days, beginning May 13.
    • This is separate from the public health orders issued by Dr. Harris. The existence of the SOE simply allows the governor to take extraordinary steps to deal with an emergency situation.
    • Extending a state of emergency is a routine action taken for emergencies that have extended effects. For example:
      • BP Oil Spill. Governor Riley proclaimed the state of emergency on April 30, 2010, and then he and Governor Bentley extended it 10 times for a total duration of almost 2 and a half years.
      • April 2011 Tornadoes. Governor Bentley proclaimed the state of emergency on April 27, 2011, and then extended it 5 times for a total duration of almost 10 months.

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