Order barring Jefferson County entertainment venues from operating set to expire Saturday

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Legacy Arena Sign at BJCC_101931

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Following a drop in the number of coronavirus cases across the greater Birmingham area, the Jefferson County Health Department has decided to allow entertainment venues to start opening back up.

The order was first issued May 22 to bar entertainment venues in Jefferson County, such as bowling alleys, concert venues, museums and theaters, from opening in an effort to keep the spread of the virus down. Now, the order is set to expire at midnight Saturday.

“At the time this order was issued, we were seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases,” a release from the JCHD stated. “In fact, in the week before and after May 22, Jefferson County saw some of the highest numbers of new cases per day since the beginning of the pandemic. More recently, we have seen some decrease in new cases and hospitalizations.”

As of Friday, there were 1,927 coronavirus cases that had been reported in Jefferson County since the start of the pandemic in March.

The order came one day after Gov. Kay Ivey allowed the rest of the state to allow more entertainment businesses to reopen. After Saturday, Jefferson County will be in line with the state mandates.

“The operators of each of these venues need to carefully consider whether they can implement these rules and follow the additional guidelines provided by the Alabama Department of Health before making a decision to open or not,” the release stated. “People visiting these venues should wear a face covering if there is a potential of close contact with people not in their household, with rare exceptions. Note that children under two years old should not wear face coverings. If venue operators and visitors all do their part, they can help assure the success of these venues going forward.”

Entertainment venues that are allowed to reopen include:

  • Bowling alleys
  • Arcades
  • Concert venues
  • Theaters
  • Auditoriums
  • Performing centers
  • Tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums)
  • Race tracks
  • Commercial or public playgrounds
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls

Night clubs are not considered for reopening at this time.

According to the new guidelines, entertainment venues shall follow these rules:

Social distancing

  • Employees shall not knowingly allow patrons or guests to congregate within 6 feet of a person from another household.
  • Employees shall take reasonable steps to prevent people from congregating in lobby areas, break rooms, and other common areas.

Emergency maximum occupancy rate.

  • Indoor and enclosed entertainment venues shall limit occupancy to 50% of the normal occupancy load as determined by the fire marshal. Outdoor venues or those not assigned a normal occupancy load by the fire marshal shall limit occupancy as required to comply with the social distancing requirements of this paragraph.

Facial coverings

  • Each employee shall wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times while in regular interaction with clients or guests.

Sanitation

  • An entertainment venue shall take reasonable steps, where practicable, to regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.

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