Coronavirus Resource Page

As the pandemic of the Coronavirus begins to spread, we want you to know that the health and wellness of our members, your employees and customers are our number one priority. AGA is keeping in contact with the CDC, NGA, FMI & the Alabama Department of Public Health as the situation unfolds here in Alabama and across the nation. This page is meant to be your resource to help keep you up to date and keep your stores running during these challenging times. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at etaylor@alabamagrocers.org.

Helpful links:

To see the most up to date Alabama COVID-19 count from the Department of Public Health click here.

This section includes information we have complied to assist the retail community.

This section includes information we have complied to assist the Manufacturing community.

For the FMI webpage on the Coronavirus, please click here.

NGA has created a page on their website dedicated to updates on the Coronavirus.

Alabama Department of Public Health has a page on their website that they are keeping updated specifically for Alabama.

USDA Frequently Asked Questions Page on COVID-19. FDA Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Briefing for Foods Stakeholders

OSHA Statement on the Coronavirus

There is no specific OSHA standard covering COVID-19. However, some OSHA requirements may apply to preventing occupational exposure to COVID-19. Among the most relevant are:

  • OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), which require using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
    • When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
  • The General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1)of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, 29 USC 654(a)(1), which requires employers to furnish to each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

For the CDC’s Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations, please click here.

CDC Overview Page of the Coronavirus 

Interim Guidance for Businesses from the CDC

Map of COVID-19 Global Cases by John’s Hopkins

GOVERNOR IVEY UPDATES SAFER AT HOME ORDER – MANDATES FACIAL COVERINGS STATEWIDE (7/15/2020)

Today Governor Ivey held a Press Conference to amend the Safer at Home order that was set to expire on July 31st. The new order now mandates Facial Coverings Statewide. The expiration date is still July 31st.

Facial coverings for individuals. Effective July 16, 2020 at 5:00 P.M., each person shall wear a mask or other facial covering that covers his or her nostrils and mouth at all times when within six feet of a person from another household in any of the following places: an indoor space open to the general public, a vehicle operated by a transportation service, or an outdoor public space where ten or more people are gathered. But this facial-covering requirement is subject to the following exceptions.

a. Exceptions for practical necessity. The facial-covering requirement does not apply to:

(i) Any person six years of age or younger;

(ii) Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents him or her from wearing a facial covering;

(iii) Any person while consuming food or drink, or seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;

(iv) Any person who is obtaining a service (for example, a medical or dental procedure) that requires removal of the facial covering in order to perform the service; or

(v) Any person who is required to remove the facial covering to confirm his or her identity, such as for security or screening purposes.

b. Exceptions for exercise. The facial-covering requirement does not apply to:

(i) Any person who is actively engaged in exercise in a gym or other athletic facility if he or she maintains six feet of separation from persons of another household;

(ii) Any person who is directly participating in athletic activities in compliance with paragraph 11 of this order; or

(iii) Any person who is in a swimming pool, lake, water attraction, or similar body of water, though wearing a face covering or social distancing is strongly encouraged if safe and practicable.

c. Exceptions for effective communication. The facial-covering requirement does not apply to:

(i) Any person who is seeking to communicate with another person where the ability to see the person’s mouth is essential for communication (such as when the other person has a hearing impairment); or

(ii) Any person speaking for broadcast or to an audience if the person maintains six feet of separation from persons from another household.

d. Exceptions to facilitate constitutionally protected activity. The facial-covering requirement does not apply to:

(i) Any person who is voting, though wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged; or

(ii) Any person who cannot wear a facial covering because he or she is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, though wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.

e. Exceptions for essential job functions. The facial-covering requirement does not apply to:

(i) Any first responder (including law enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel) if necessary to perform a public-safety function; or

(ii) Any person performing a job function if wearing a face covering is inconsistent with industry safety standards or a business’s established safety protocols

Items of Interest Under the FAQ’s

4. I live in a city or county that already has a local mask order.  Am I supposed to follow my local order or this new statewide order?

Follow this new statewide order. While this order is in effect, it will replace all local mask rules to provide a uniform, statewide rule.

5. I am a business owner. What does this order mean for my business?

The order requires businesses to take reasonable steps, where practicable, to encourage mask use by employees and customers. One example of a reasonable step might be to post signs encouraging customers and patrons to wear a mask. Although a business is not required to deny entry to people who are mask-less, they always retain the right to do so—and doing so would certainly be a reasonable step to encourage mask use.

To see a copy of the new order, please click here

To see a copy of the FAQ’s, please click here.

To see a copy of the posters, please click here.

Statewide AGA mask poster, please click here.

In cooperation with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Alabama Homeland Security, the Alabama Grocers Association has secured protective masks for frontline workers of the AGA membership.

The masks are white cloth, washable and reusable masks made by Hanes (clothing manufacturer), and follow best practices guidelines (for manufacturing and re-use) as indicated by the CDC.

If you are in need of masks, please go to https://alabamagrocers.org/mask-order-form/ to receive some for your stores.  We appreciate the partnership of our state partners and the work all you are doing on the frontlines. The masks were sent to us in large boxes of 500. However, we are able to ship them to AGA Members in Flat Rate Priority Medium (100 Masks) and Large (175 Masks) boxes to retailers. If you are local to the area and need a large box of 500 please contact jbrown@alabamagrocers.org to arrange a pickup Monday through Thursday. To order either 100 or 175, please  visit https://alabamagrocers.org/mask-order-form/.  There is no cost for the masks, only the shipping.


UPDATE – August 27, 2020

Today Governor Ivey held a Press Conference to extend the Safer at Home order until October 2nd and the Public Health Emergency Order to November 8th.

There is a change to the restaurants and similar establishments section and this will affect grocery deli’s that are regulated by the Alabama Department of Public Health. Please see below.

Restaurants and similar establishments. Effective August 31, 2020 at 5:00 P.M.,
all food service establishments and retail food stores permitted by the Alabama Department of Public Health shall operate as follows:

a. Such establishments may continue to offer food for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols, including maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are followed.

b. Such establishments are strongly encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pickup of food.

c. Hospital food service areas and cafeterias operated by an educational institution
described in paragraph 14 are excluded from this paragraph provided they have their own social distancing plan.

Insofar as such establishments offer on-premises consumption of food or drink, they shall limit the party size at tables to no more than eight persons and maintain at least six feet of separation between people seated at different tables, booths, chairs, or stools. Games played at such establishments, such as pool and darts, may be played if players maintain 6 feet of distance from other players, game equipment is not shared by players during game play, and equipment is sanitized in between uses.

e. 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 patrons or guests.

f. Such establishments operating buffets, salad bars, and self-serve drink stations shall (i) ensure that at least one employee’s duties include maintaining six feet of distance among customers using the buffet, salad bar, or self-serve drink station and (ii) provide hand sanitizer and encourage customers to apply it before using the buffet, salad bar, or self-serve drink station.

In addition to complying with the requirements of this paragraph, establishments subject to this paragraph are strongly encouraged to read and implement the Alabama Department of Public Health’s “Guidelines for Restaurants and Bars,” available at:
https://alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/assets/cov-sah-restaurants-bars.pdf..

Please note that Masks are still required state wide.

To see a copy of the order, click here.

To see a copy of the Supplemental State of Emergency, click here.

If you need a poster of the State “Masks are Required” poser, click here.

If you need the AGA mask poster, please click here.

AGA Members can order Masks by clicking here.

UPDATE – July 29, 2020

GOVERNOR IVEY EXTENDS SAFER AT HOME ORDER

Governor Ivey held a Press Conference on July 29th to extend the Safer at Home order until August 31st. 

There are no changes for the grocery industry and masks are still required. 

The only change she made to the order was requiring masks in schools and colleges. No other changes were made to her order.

To see a copy of the order, click here.

If you need a poster of the State “Masks are Required” poser, click here.

If you need the AGA mask poster, please click here.

UPDATE – July 27, 2020

CDC UPDATES INFORMATION ON HOME ISOLATION AFTER EXPOSURE OR POSSIBLE EXPOSURE TO COVID-19

Over the last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s self-isolation rules have been updated.

Discontinuing Home Isolation for Persons with COVID-19:

Accumulating evidence supports ending isolation and precautions for persons with COVID-19 using a symptom-based strategy. Specifically, researchers have reported that people with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after their symptoms began, and those with more severe illness or those who are severely immunocompromised remain infectious no longer than 20 days after their symptoms began. Therefore, CDC has updated the recommendations for discontinuing home isolation as follows:

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days* have passed since symptom onset and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms have improved.

*A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days, that may warrant extending duration of isolation for up to 20 days after symptom onset. Consider consultation with infection control experts. See Discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions and Disposition of Patients with COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings (Interim Guidance).

Persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 who never develop COVID-19 symptoms may discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

To read the full information from the CDC on the Disposition of Non-Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19 that was updated on July 20th, please click here.

Additionally, the CDC updated their Q & A on July 16th for When You can be  Around Others After you had or Likely Had COVID-19. These are Below:

I think or know I had COVID-19, and I had symptoms

You can be with others after

  • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
  • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and
  • Symptoms have improved

Depending on your healthcare provider’s advice and availability of testing, you might get tested to see if you still have COVID-19. If you are tested, you can be around others when you have no fever, respiratory symptoms have improved, and you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

I tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms

If you continue to have no symptoms, you can be with others after:

  • 10 days have passed since test

Depending on your healthcare provider’s advice and availability of testing, you might get tested to see if you still have COVID-19. If you will be tested, you can be around others after you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

If you develop symptoms after testing positive, follow the guidance above for “I think or know I had COVID, and I had symptoms.”

I have a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) due to a health condition or medication. When can I be around others?

People with conditions that weaken their immune system might need to stay home longer than 10 days. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information.  If testing is available in your community, it may be recommended by your healthcare provider.  You can be with others after you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart.

If testing is not available in your area, your doctor should work with an infectious disease expert at your local health department to determine if you are likely to spread COVID-19 to others and need to stay home longer.

For Anyone Who Has Been Around a Person with COVID-19

It is important to remember that anyone who has close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after exposure based on the time it takes to develop illness. To read the full information from the CDC with the Q&A’s on When You Can be Around Others After you had or Likely Had COVID-19, click here.

UPDATE – June 30, 2020

GOVERNOR IVEY EXTENDS SAFER AT HOME ORDER

Today Governor Ivey held a Press Conference to extend the Safer at Home order that was set to expire on July 3rd. The new order was extended to July 31st at 5pm. There were no major changes in the order. The Governor also extended the Alabama State of Emergency.

To see a copy of the new order, please click here.

To see a copy of the Alabama State of Emergency, please click here.

UPDATE – June 26, 2020

JEFFERSON COUNTY ANNOUNCES FACE COVERINGS ORDER EFFECTIVE MONDAY, JUNE 29

Today the Jefferson County Department of Health announced an order stating effective Monday, June 29th at 5pm, public establishments in Jefferson County will require persons to wear a face covering.

The order states:

All persons shall be required to wear face coverings or masks in the following public places within Jefferson County:

Indoor spaces of businesses or venues open to the general public, including but not limited to stores, bars and restaurants (see exception 3b) entertainment venues, public meeting spaces, government buildings, civic centers, entertainment venues, etc.

Transportation services available to the general public, including mass transit, paratransit, taxi or ride-sharing services.

Outdoor areas open to the general public where ten or more persons are gathered and unable to maintain a distance of six (6) or more feet between persons not from the same household.

Under the order it addresses Businesses under section 5. 

Businesses. Unless otherwise ordered but the State Health Officer to comply with a stricter face covering requirement, business owners, managers and supervisors shall develop their own policies and procedures regarding face coverings for employees in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Alabama Department of Public Health. 

a. Public Places. If a business contains a space open to the general public, policies regarding those spaces must comply with the restrictions in Section 2 of this Order.

b. Non-Public Places. If a businesses contains a space or spaces not open to general public, “non-public places not included in section 2 of this Order, such as an office or back room, policies regarding those spaces should take into account the health, safety and comfort of employees.

c. Employee Safety. Employers are encouraged to structure work to promote social distancing and limit close contact as much as possible within workplaces where face coverings or masks may pose rick to person safety.

Notices. All businesses and venues open to the general public shall post a notice to all public entrances of their establishment, stating that face coverings are required inside the establishment.

To see a copy of this order, please click here.

To download a copy of the poster to post at your location, please click here.

To see a poster where face coverings are required, click here.

FACE MASKS AVAILABLE TO GROCERY STORES

In cooperation with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Alabama Homeland Security, the Alabama Grocers Association has secured protective masks for frontline workers of its membership.  We are starting with an allotment of 25,000 masks but have been told we can source more if needed. 

The masks are white cloth, washable and reusable masks made by Hanes (clothing manufacturer) and follow best practices guidelines (for manufacturing and re-use) as indicated by the CDC.

If an AGA member is in need of masks, please go to https://alabamagrocers.org/mask-order-form/ to receive some for your stores.  We appreciate the partnership of our state partners and the work all you are doing on the front-lines.

The masks were sent to us in large boxes of 500. However, we are able to ship them in Flat Rate Priority Medium (100 Masks) and Large (175 Masks) boxes to retailers. If you are local to the area and need a large box of 500 or more, please contact jbrown@alabamagrocers.org to arrange a pickup Monday through Thursday. To order either 100 or 175, please  visit https://alabamagrocers.org/mask-order-form/ There is no cost for the masks, only the shipping.

UPDATE – June 18, 2020

MONTGOMERY MAYOR MANDATES FACE COVERINGS STARTING FRIDAY, JUNE 19TH AT 5PM

Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed has issued an executive order requiring masks or face coverings in public places with the City of Montgomery to slow the spread of COVID-19. This Order shall become effective at 5:00 PM on Friday June 19th, 2020, and continuing until it is rescinded, superseded, or amended. Click here to view the entire ordinance.

INFORMATION FROM THE ORDINANCE:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDERED by the Mayor of Montgomery that face coverings or “masks” shall be required in public places within the City to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.

(a) DEFINITIONS:

Face covering or mask: A device to cover the nose and mouth of a person to impede the spread of saliva or other fluids during speaking, coughing, sneezing or other intentional or involuntary action.  Medical grade masks are not required; coverings may be fashioned from scarves, bandanas or other suitable fabrics.  The mask must cover the mouth and nose of the wearer.

Public place: Any place other than outdoor space, personal/private residences or motor vehicles.

(b) Face coverings or masks shall be worn at all times by persons over the age of two years old and who can medically tolerate doing so when in public places within the City of Montgomery where there are 10 or more people present. The requirement applies to employees, customers and clients of businesses within the City.

(c) Face coverings or masks shall be worn in outdoor spaces when there are 10 or more people within 6 feet of one another.

SECTION 2.

A face covering or mask is not required in the following settings and circumstances:

(a) When outdoors (granted there are less than 10 people and they are at least 6 feet apart);

(b) In the privacy of one’s own residence or another’s residence;

(c) Within one’s own motor vehicle or another’s motor vehicle;

(d) During individual outdoor exercise, for example, walking or jogging, but must be worn when encountering and interacting with groups of other people in a park or other public place.  For the purposes of this subsection, “exercise” includes other forms of physical exertion, whether for recreation or work includes where unrestricted breathing is needed to perform the activity.

(e) Persons working alone in separate office spaces or in non-public workplaces where there is more than adequate social distancing area, based on the size of and number of people in the space (indoors or out of doors) need not wear a face covering or mask at all times.  However, such persons must be prepared to don and wear a face covering or mask when interacting with others in groups of 10 or more persons or in groups of any size where social distancing of more than six (6) feet cannot be consistently maintained.

(f) Patients in examination rooms of medical or dental offices or clinics or hospitals where there is a necessity to examine or treat the mouth or nasal area, subject to the direction of the medical or dental professionals in charge of the office, clinic or hospital.

(g) When wearing a face covering or mask poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance. For purposes of this subsection, “safety risk” shall include external factors, such as, but not limited to, where wearing a face covering or mask may pose a risk to persons working on ladders or at height, wearing other respiratory protection, heavy physical exertion or operating heavy equipment or operating in an environment where a face covering or mask hinders communications.  However, employers are encouraged to structure work to promote social distancing and limit close contact as much as possible within in workplaces where face coverings or masks may pose such risks. 

(h) When eating or drinking in public at a restaurant, bar or other food or beverage establishment operating under conditions required by the state health officer’s order. A mask or face covering must be worn when entering and exiting any such establishment.

SECTION 3.

Failure to comply with this Order is punishable by a fine of $25.00.

SECTION 4. This Order shall become effective at 5:00 PM on Friday June 19th, 2020, and continuing until it is rescinded, superseded, or amended.

UPDATE – May 27, 2020

Food Industry Recommended Protocols When Employee/Visitor/Customer Tests Positive for COVID-19

Food production facilities, distributors, retailers and wholesalers are part of our nation’s “critical infrastructure” and must remain operational to feed the country. Inconsistent approaches to reacting to an individual, particularly manufacturing personnel, who test positive for COVID-19, have the potential to jeopardize our food system. This document recommends a consistent approach in how a company can continue operations in the event an individual has tested positive or is potentially exposed, given the global COVID-19 pandemic and high transmissibility of this respiratory virus from person to person. This guidance is not intended to replace or supersede federal, state, or local guidance or authority. It highlights key recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on:

  • Steps to be taken when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath) associated with COVID19 (presumptive or suspected case); and
  • Steps to be taken when an employee/facility visitor/customer has been exposed (in close contact) to an individual who is positive for COVID-19

Note: CDC and OSHA guidance may be changing, and rapidly, as more is learned, and that the most up-to-date information is available at the CDC COVID-19 website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html; and OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 website: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf  

Steps To Be Taken When An Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19 Or Is Presumed Positive Based on Symptoms Associated With COVID-19
 
Food manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, wholesale and retail outlets should consider the following as they prepare for the potential that an employee may test positive for COVID-19 or is presumed positive based on disease symptoms.

  • For an individual who has symptoms associated with COVID-19 (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, and/or new loss of taster or smell) or has tested positive for COVID-19:
    • If the employee is onsite at the facility, send the employee home immediately;  
    • If the employee is at home, do not permit the employee to come to work
  • Employees who have not been tested but show symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and be excluded from work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [38.0° C] or greater using an oral thermometer),  and any other related symptoms (i.e.,  cough, shortness of breath and/or other symptoms) for at least 3 days (72 hours), without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants) AND at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
    • Employees should notify their supervisor
    • Encourage the employee to contact their local health department and seek medical attention upon initial appearance of symptoms
    • Employees with a COVID-19 positive test* who have stayed home (home isolated) may be able to return to work under the following conditions:
      • If employee will not have a test to determine if they are still contagious, they may be able to return to work after these three things have happened:
        • no fever for at least 72 hours since recovery (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers) AND
        • other symptoms have improved (for example, when cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
        • at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared
    • If employee will be tested to determine if they are still contagious, they may be able to return to work after these three things have happened:
      • no longer have a fever (without the use medicine that reduces fevers) AND
      • other symptoms have improved (for example, when cough, shortness of breath and/or other symptoms have improved) AND
      • received two negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart. Doctor should follow CDC guidelines

*For the most current CDC recommendations, see: CDC’s What To Do if You are Sick

  • Contact other relevant third parties who may have been exposed
  • Make an OSHA record/report if required. OSHA’s recent guidance says such a report is required if:
    • There is a confirmed (tested positive) case of COVID-19;
    • It is contracted due to employee performing work-related duties; and,
    • It meets other standards for OSHA reporting (for example, more than one day away from work, or medical treatment beyond first aid)
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces to limit employee exposure. (see Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines section below)
    • A facility/location does not need to shut down as a result of an employee, visitor, or other individual testing positive for COVID-19 if the steps above are followed and the ill and potentially exposed individuals are appropriately addressed.

Steps To Be Taken When An Employee/Visitor/Customer Is Exposed (In Close Contact) With An Individual Who Is Positive For COVID-19

  • Try to identify if employees have been exposed or potentially exposed to infected individuals. Unless advised by local authorities, other individuals in the facility should not be considered high risk for infection, do not require special treatment, and may continue working as normal (after surfaces are cleaned and disinfected, as described below).
    • Exposure/Close contact is defined by CDC as:
      • Being within 6 feet (2 meters) of a confirmed or suspected  COVID19 positive individual for 15 min. or longer, including within the 48 hours prior to symptom onset; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case; OR,
      • having unprotected direct contact with infectious secretions or excretions of the person with confirmed COVID-19 (e.g., being coughed on)
    • Short term exposure, such as walking past someone, is not “close contact”
    • In accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements, inform individuals of potential exposure
    • Working with local authorities and the individuals’ health care providers, consider if it is appropriate to take the following actions for employees who have been exposed to individuals with COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms:
      • CDC recommends that employers pre-screen these employees by measuring temperature and monitoring symptoms (e.g., cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and/or fever of 100.4° F [38.0° C] or greater using an oral thermometer) associated with COVID-19, prior to entering the facility (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/downloads/critical-workers-implementing-safetypractices.pdf).
      • CDC recommends regular monitoring of temperature using an infrared thermometer. When taking temperatures, employers should keep as much distance from employees as possible, wash their hands with soap and water before and after taking temperatures, and use gloves, if available. CDC provides some guidance on conducting temperature screening in homeless shelters, which can also be used in food manufacturing facilities. For additional information about screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms, see guidance from the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance.
      • These employees should wear a face mask/covering at all times while in the workplace for 14 days since the time they might have been exposed or come in close contact with an infected individual. In addition the employee should practice physical (social) distancing as work duties permit, and continue to self-monitor for symptoms. 
      • If symptoms arise, the employee should be sent home immediately and surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Employees should also contact their local health department and physician to determine next steps.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces to limit employee/visitor/customer exposure. (see Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines section below)

*The following can be helpful in assessing risk:

 
In the CDC Risk Assessment “Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Exposures: Geographic Risk and Contacts of Laboratory-Confirmed Cases” the CDC notes “some personnel fill essential (critical) infrastructure roles within communities. The Department of Homeland Security identifies Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce at https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce. Based on the needs of individual jurisdictions, and at the discretion of state or local health authorities, these personnel may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (either travel-associated or close contact to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19), provided they remain asymptomatic. Personnel who are permitted to work following an exposure should selfmonitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program including taking their temperature before each work shift to ensure they remain afebrile. On days these individuals are scheduled to work, the employer’s occupational health program could consider measuring temperature and assessing symptoms prior to their starting work. Exposed healthcare personnel who are considered part of critical infrastructure should follow existing CDC guidance.”

Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines

  • As soon as an employee is identified that has tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms associated with this virus, clean and sanitize the facility according to CDC guidance at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
  • Existing sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) including cleaning and disinfection processes for food contact surfaces and processing equipment should serve to mitigate the SARS-CoV-2 hazard and the potential spread of SARS-CoV-2. With that said, other surfaces in the facility environment that are not routinely targeted in SSOPs may need to be targeted if the infected individual is known to have or could have come in close contact with them  
  • EPA registered disinfectants should be used 
    • There is a list of EPA-registered “disinfectant” products for COVID-19 on the Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19
    • IMPORTANT: Check the product label guidelines for if and where these disinfectant products are safe and recommended for use in food manufacturing areas or food establishments  
  • Special attention should be paid to high contact surfaces such as: doorknobs, touch screens, control panels, time clocks, tabletops, breakroom/cafeteria facilities, handrails, handwashing stations, and restroom facilities
  • CDC also recommends that facilities consider improving their engineering controls using the building ventilation system to:

Disposition of Food

  • There is currently no evidence to support that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted to humans through food or food packaging materials
  • If practical, however, any packaging that has been in close contact with an individual who has symptoms associated with COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19, could be wiped down with sanitizer
  • The FDA does not anticipate that food will need to be held, recalled or withdrawn from the market due to possible exposure to SARS-CoV-2 through a person that has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus that works a food facility https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-andcoronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

To download the full article from FeedingUS, please click here

UPDATE – May 21, 2020

Governor Ivey Issues Changes to Safer at Home Order

Today Governor Ivey updated the Safer-At-Home order which goes into effect on Friday, May 22nd at 5pm and ends on Friday, July 3rd at 5pm.

New updates include:

ENTERTAINMENT VENUES SUCH AS ARCADES, THEATERS, BOWLING ALLEYS Open subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines

ATHLETIC ACTIVITIES Open subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS Open subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines

CHILD DAY CARE FACILITIES Open subject to social-distancing and sanitation rules and guidelines

SUMMER CAMP Remain open with rules and guidelines available

GUIDANCE FOR RETAILERS REMAIN THE SAME

  • Protections for employees. Effective May 11, 2020, and unless otherwise permitted or required by this order, all employers shall take reasonable steps, where practicable as work duties permit, to protect their employees by: 
    • maintaining six feet of separation between employees; 
    • regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces;
    • encouraging handwashing;
    • preventing employees who are sick from coming into contact with other persons;
    • facilitating remote working arrangements; and 
    • minimizing employee travel. In addition to complying with the requirements of this paragraph, employers are strongly encouraged to read and implement the Alabama Department of Public Health’s “Guidelines for Safeguarding All Businesses,” available at https://alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/assets/cov-sah-businesses.pdf.
  • Protections for customers, etc. Effective May 11, 2020, and unless otherwise permitted or required by this order, the operator of any business, government office, or other establishment open to the public shall take reasonable steps, where practicable, to protect their customers, constituents, or other guests by: a.maintaining six feet of separation between such persons (except for those persons who share the same household); and b.regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces.
  • Retailers. Effective May 11, 2020, all retail stores shall comply with the following rules:
    • Emergency maximum occupancy rate. Occupancy shall be limited to no more than 50 percent of the normal occupancy load as determined by the fire marshal. This “emergency maximum occupancy rate” shall be posted in a conspicuous place, and enough staff shall be posted at the store entrances and exits to enforce this requirement.
    • Social distancing. An employee of the retail store may not knowingly allow customers or patrons to congregate within six feet of a person from another household.
    • Sanitation. The retail store shall take reasonable steps to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Downloads:

To read the new Health Order that takes effect on Friday, May 22nd at 5pm, please click here.

To download the “Proceeding with Caution” from the Governor’s office, please click here.

UPDATE – May 8, 2020

Governor Ivey Issues Changes to Safer at Home Order

Today, Governor Kay Ivey announced changes to the ‘Safer-at-Home’ order during her press conference. The new order will be in effect at 5 pm on May 11th and will remain in place until 5pm on May 22.

In this new safer at home order, lifts the ban on group sizes of 10 or more for all non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a six-foot distance between people from different households are prohibited. This covers church gatherings, though Ivey urged houses of worship consult the Alabama Department of Public Health’s “Guidelines for Places of Worship.”

Restaurants, bars and breweries may reopen as long as they limit the party size to no more than 8 people and maintain at least 6 feet between people seated at different tables, booths, chairs and stools. Self-service by guests at drink stations, buffets or salad bars is prohibited.

Gyms and other athletic facilities such as fitness centers and commercial gyms, spas, yoga, barre and spin facilities can reopen with social distancing and hygiene measures in place. Access must be limited to 50 percent of normal occupancy and employees must wear masks.

Close-contact providers, such as salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and nail salons may reopen with social distancing and hygiene in place.

Gathering size limits for the beaches are eliminated as long as people maintain a 6-foot distance between people from other households.

Not changing

  • Daycare facilities are limited to 12 children or less per room.
  • Retail stores must maintain their 50% occupancy rate.
  • Night clubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Arcades
  • Concert venues
  • Theaters, auditoriums and performing arts centers
  • Bowling alleys
  • Arcades
  • Concert venues
  • Tourist attractions such as museums
  • Racetracks
  • Indoor children’s play areas
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Casinos
  • Bingo halls
  • Sports that involve interaction with another person closer than 6 feet
  • Activities that require use of shared sports equipment
  • Activities on commercial or public playgrounds

There were no changes to the Grocery Community in this recent Safer at Home Order.

DOWNLOADS:

Updated Safer-At-Home Order 5.8.2020

Safer at Home Updated Sheet from the Governor Office

Alabama Public Health Issues Guidelines for Safeguarding for All Businesses

UPDATE – May 8, 2020

Governor Ivey Protects Businesses in New Supplemental State of Emergency Orders

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Friday added new updates to the statewide COVID-19 State of Emergency, including protections for health care workers, protections for businesses and extending the public health emergency by 60 days.

“I want to do everything within my authority to protect businesses as Alabama’s economy gets up and running again. 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,” Governor Ivey said.

  • 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.

Additionally:

One provision allows for probate judges to improve procedures for administering the July 14th 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.

Please note that under the 8th Supplemental SOE COVID-19

Section C. Emergency protections.

1. Liability protections. A business, health care provider, or other covered entity shall not be liable for the death or injury to persons or for damage to property in any way arising from any act or omission related to, or in connection with, COVID-19 transmission or a covered COVID-19 response activity, unless a claimant shows  by clear and convincing evidence that the claimant’s alleged death, injury, or damage was caused by the bushiness, health care provider, or other covered entity’s wanton, reckless willful, or intentional misconduct.

2. Limitations on damages. In those instances where liability is established under Section I.C.1 and the acts or omissions do not result in serious physical injury, a business, health care provider, or other covered entity’s liability shall by limited to actual economic compensatory damages, and in no event shall the business, health care provider, or other covered entity be liable for non-economic or punitive damages. A party asserting a wrongful death claim under Section I.C.1 is only entitled to an award of punitive damages.

3. Accrued causes of action. For any cause of action relating to COVID-19 transmission of a covered COVID-19 response activity where the cause of action accrued before the issuance of this proclamation and for which a court holds that the provisions of Section I.C.1 and I.C.2 do not apply, the following shall apply:

a. Standard of Care. As a matter of law, a business health care provider, or other covered entity shall not be liable for negligence, premises liability, or for any non-wanton, non-willful, or non-intentional civil cause of action with respect to any individual or entity relating to or in connection with COVID-19 transmission or any covered COVID-19 response activity unless the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the business, health care provider, or other covered entity did not reasonable attempt to comply with then applicable public health guidance. 

b. Adjustment of remedies. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a business, health care provider, or other covered entity shall not be liable for damages from mental anguish or emotional distress or for punitive damages but could be liable for economic compensatory damages in a cause of action that does not involve serious physical injury. This subsection shall not prohibit the awarding of punitive damages for wrongful death claims, but no other damages shall be allowed for such claims.

Click here to read the entire 8th Supplemental State of Emergency Order.

Click here to read the entire 9th Supplemental State of Emergency Order.

UPDATE – APRIL 28, 2020

Governor Ivey Issues Safer at Home Order

Today, April 28th, Governor Kay Ivey Issued a “Safer at Home” order effective at 5pm on April 30th.

Recommendations for individuals. Effective April 30, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all
individuals—and especially vulnerable persons—are encouraged to exercise personal responsibility in slowing the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Minimizing travel outside the home, especially if sick;
  • Wearing face coverings around people from other households when it is necessary to leave the home;
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer, especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces;
  • Refraining from touching one’s face;
  • Sneezing or coughing into a tissue, or the inside of one’s elbow; and
  • Disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.

“Vulnerable persons” means individuals 65 years and older or individuals with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.

Quarantine for infected persons. Effective immediately, any person who has tested positive for COVID-19—other than institutionalized persons—shall be quarantined to their place of residence for a period of 14 days, or other period of time as directed by the State Health Officer, or his designee, after receiving positive test results. Any person quarantined pursuant to this provision shall not leave their place of residence for any reason other than to seek necessary medical treatment. Any person requiring assistance while under quarantine may contact Alabama Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, http://alvoad.communityos.org/cms. While under quarantine, the person shall take precautions as directed by his or her health care provider or the Alabama Department of Public Health to prevent the spread of the disease to others.

Non-work related gatherings. Effective March 28, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all non-work related gatherings of 10 persons or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons from different households, are prohibited. But “drive-in” gatherings of any size are permitted if the participants adhere to the following rules:

  • All participants shall remain in their vehicles for the entirety of the event;
  • The participants in each vehicle must all share the same household; and
  • Participants shall not come within six feet of participants in other vehicles.

For purposes of this paragraph, “non-work related gathering” includes church services, weddings, funeral services, social gatherings, concerts, festivals, sporting events, and similar events.

Protections for employees. Effective April 30, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., and unless
otherwise permitted or required by this order, all employers shall take reasonable steps, where practicable as work duties permit, to protect their employees by:

  • avoiding gatherings of 10 employees or more;
  • maintaining six feet of separation between employees;
  • regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces;
  • encouraging handwashing;
  • preventing employees who are sick from coming into contact with other persons;
  • facilitating remote working arrangements; and
  • minimizing employee travel.

Protections for customers, etc. Effective April 30, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., and unless
otherwise permitted or required by this order, the operator of any business, government office, or other establishment open to the public shall take reasonable steps, where practicable, to protect their customers, constituents, or other guests by:

  • avoiding gatherings of 10 or more such persons;
  • maintaining six feet of separation between such persons (except for those persons who share the same household); and
  • regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces.

Retailers. Effective April 30, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all retail stores shall comply with the following rules:

  • Emergency maximum occupancy rate. Occupancy shall be limited to no more than 50 percent of the normal occupancy load as determined by the fire marshal. This “emergency maximum occupancy rate” shall be posted in a conspicuous place, and enough staff shall be posted at the store entrances and exits to enforce this requirement.
  • Social distancing. An employee of the retail store may not knowingly allow customers or patrons to congregate within six feet of one another.
  • Sanitation. The retail store shall take reasonable steps to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“the CDC”) and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Higher-risk businesses and activities. Effective March 28, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., and notwithstanding any other provision of this order, the following businesses, venues, and activities shall be closed to non-employees or not take place:

  • Entertainment venues as follows:
  •  
  • (i) Night clubs
  • (ii) Bowling alleys
  • (iii) Arcades
  • (iv) Concert venues
  • (v) Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
  • (vi) Tourist attractions (including museums and planetariums)
  • (vii) Racetracks
  • (viii) Indoor children’s play areas
  • (ix) Adult entertainment venues
  • (x) Casinos
  • (xi) Bingo halls
  • (xii) Venues operated by social clubs
  • Athletic facilities and activities as follows:
  •  
  • (i) Fitness centers and commercial gyms
  • (ii) Spas
  • (iii) Yoga, barre, and spin facilities
  • (iv) Sports that involve interaction with another person of closer than 6 feet
  • (v) Activities that require use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
  • (vi) Activities on commercial or public playground equipment
  • Close-contact service providers as follows:
  •  
  • (i) Barber shops
  • (ii) Hair salons (other than hair restoration centers)
  • (iii) Waxing salons
  • (iv) Threading salons
  • (v) Nail salons and spas
  • (vi) Body art facilities and tattoo services
  • (vii) Massage therapy establishments and services (other than for medically prescribed services)

Beaches. Effective April 30, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all beaches shall be open to
gatherings of fewer than 10 persons, and anyone using the beaches must maintain a consistent six-foot distance between himself or herself and all persons from a different household. For purposes of this section, the term “beach” means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.

Senior Citizen Centers. Effective March 20, 2020, all regular programs at Senior
Citizen Centers shall be ended except that Senior Citizen Centers and their partners are urged to assure that their clients continue to receive needed meals via curbside pick-up or delivery.

Educational institutions and child day care facilities. Effective March 20, 2020,
the following shall be closed:

  • a. In-person instruction or classes at all schools, public and private, including but not limited to: elementary, secondary, postsecondary, technical, or specialty schools, and colleges and universities.
  •  
  • (i) This order is not intended to prevent any employers from making continued necessary staffing decisions. Employers are authorized to advise employees to work from home or maintain flexible work schedules. If working from home is not feasible, the employee should practice social distancing, maintaining consistent six-foot distance between persons, for the duration of this order and follow public health guidelines.
  • (ii) This order shall not apply to daytime special activities programs provided by local boards of education for children, ages 6 through 12 as of March 13, 2020, of first responders (including EMS and fire services) and licensed health-care providers and their essential employees; and essential employees of the following categories of employers: state and local governments, law enforcement, hospitals, nursing home/long-term care facilities, (including assisted living and specialty-care assisted living facilities), end-stage renal disease treatment centers, pharmacies, and grocery stores. In these special activities programs, 12 or more children shall not be allowed in any one room at the same time, and operators of these programs are encouraged to use enhanced sanitation practices consistent with guidance from the CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health.
  • b.Facilities providing child day care, including any child day care facility described in Ala. Code § 38-7-2, at which 12 or more children are in a room or other enclosed space at the same time. Center employees are encouraged to use enhanced sanitation and socialdistancing practices consistent with guidance from the CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health. This Order does not change the Minimum Standards for Day Care promulgated by the Alabama Department of Human Resources, except that 12 or more children shall not be allowed in a room or other enclosed space at the same time.

Hospitals and similar institutions. Effective March 20, 2020, all Hospitals and
Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors, as defined by the facility, and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity, end-of-life, and support for persons with disabilities.

Medical procedures. Effective April 30, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., dental, medical, or
surgical procedures may proceed unless the State Health Officer or his designee determines that performing such procedures, or any category of them (whether statewide or regionally), would unacceptably reduce access to personal protective equipment or other resources necessary to diagnose and treat COVID-19. Providers performing these procedures shall follow all applicable COVID-19-related rules adopted by a state regulatory board or by the Alabama Department of Public Health. In the absence of such rules, providers should take reasonable steps to comply with applicable COVID-19-related guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the CDC, including “Re-opening Facilities to Provide Non-emergent Non-COVID-19 Healthcare: Phase I” from CMS, available at https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-flexibility-reopen-essential-non-covid-services.pdf, and “Infection Control Guidance for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus (COVID-19)” from the CDC, available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infectioncontrol.html.

Restaurants and similar establishments. Effective March 19, 2020, at 5:00 P.M.,
all restaurants, bars, breweries, or similar establishments shall not permit on-premises consumption of food or drink.

  • a. Such establishments may continue to offer food for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols, including maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are followed.
  • b. Such establishments are strongly encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pickup of food.
  • c. Hospital food service areas are excluded from this order provided they have their own social distancing plan.

Duration. This Order shall remain in full force and effect until 5:00 P.M. on May 15,
2020. Prior to 5:00 P.M. on May 15, 2020, a determination shall be made whether to extend this Order—or, if circumstances permit, to relax this Order.

Preemption. This Order supersedes and preempts all orders previously issued by the State Health Officer and Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers concerning COVID-19 mitigation measures, and this Order shall remain in full force and effect until rescinded by order of the State Health Officer or its expiration. After the date this order is issued, the Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers are authorized, after approval by the State Health Officer, to implement more stringent measures as local circumstances require

DOWNLOADS:

SAFER AT HOME FLYER FAQ FOR BEACHES FROM PUBLIC HEALTH

UPDATE – APRIL 28, 2020

BIRMINGHAM CITY REQUIRES ALL TO WEAR MASKS STARTING MAY 1ST

Below is the ordinance from the Birmingham City Council that passed on Tuesday morning unanimously approving the requirement face coverings for all 2 and older starting May 1st.

Please note that it defines Face covering or mask: A device to cover the nose and mouth of a person to impede the spread of saliva or other fluids during speaking, coughing, sneezing or other intentional or involuntary action.  Medical grade masks are not required; coverings may be fashioned from scarves, bandanas or other suitable fabrics.  The mask must cover the mouth and nose of the wearer.

Also please note that the ordinance does state that:

(e) Business owners, managers and supervisors shall ensure that employees, customers, clients and/or visitors observe the requirement for face coverings or masks while at the place of business.  This shall not be interpreted as requiring businesses to provide face coverings or masks to employees. To see the entire ordinance, please click here.

UPDATE – APRIL 21, 2020

FDA RELEASES ARTICLE ON GROCERY SHOPPING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC FOR CONSUMERS

FDA has released an article on grocery shopping during the COVID-19 Pandemic for consumers. The article states:

As grocery shopping remains a necessity during this pandemic, many people have questions about how to shop safely. We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food.

Although your grocery store may be temporarily out of certain products, there are no nationwide shortages of food. Food production and manufacturing are spread throughout the United States. During this pandemic, consumers are getting most of their food from grocery stores, and many stores have modified their operating hours to allow for more time to restock shelves and clean. In addition, many stores are providing special hours for seniors or other high-risk individuals to shop and are offering pick-up and delivery services.”

They are also giving consumers 10 tips on how to protect themselves, grocery workers and other shoppers. To read the entire article, please click here.

UPDATE – APRIL 20, 2020

SAFETY OF FOOD AND FOOD PACKAGING DURING COVID-19

FMI has complied a FAQ with responses from both FDA and USDA on the safety of food and food packaging and some FMI Resources that have to do with the safety of Food and Food Packaging during COVID-19.

Q: Can I become sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) from food?

USDA Answer: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

FDA Answer: Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This includes between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. However, it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill – to prevent foodborne illness.

Q: Are meat products compromised by the Coronavirus?

USDA Answer: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

FMI Resources:

Dr. Ben Chapman, professor, food safety specialist, Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences, North Carolina State University video on food packaging

UPDATE – APRIL 14, 2020

FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION EXTENSION AND EXPANSION OF THE EMERGENCY CDC RELEASES INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS WHO HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19

To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.

A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.

Critical Infrastructure workers who have had an exposure but remain asymptomatic should adhere to the following practices prior to and during their work shift:

  • Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
  • Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
  • Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
  • Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
  • Disinfect and Clean work spaces: Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.

If the employee becomes sick during the day, they should be sent home immediately. Surfaces in their workspace should be cleaned and disinfected. Information on persons who had contact with the ill employee during the time the employee had symptoms and 2 days prior to symptoms should be compiled. Others at the facility with close contact within 6 feet of the employee during this time would be considered exposed.

Employers should implement the recommendations in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19in the workplace. Additional information about identifying critical infrastructure during COVID-19 can be found on the DHS CISA websiteexternal icon or the CDC’s specific First Responder Guidance page. This information can be found on the CDC’s Website.

UPDATE – APRIL 10, 2020

FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION EXTENSION AND EXPANSION OF THE EMERGENCY DECLARATION TO MAY 15TH

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hereby declares that a nationwide emergency continues to exist that warrants extension and expansion of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 issued on March 13, 2020, and expanded on March 18, 2020, and continuing the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for the fifty States and the District of Columbia.  This Declaration extends the exemption through May 15, 2020, and further expands the relief expressly to cover liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems.

Emergency Declaration 2020-002 was issued following the declaration of nationwide emergency by the President pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 5191(b) in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the public health emergency declared by the Health and Human Services Secretary, and the immediate risk these outbreaks present to public health and welfare.  Emergency Declaration 2020-002 is set to expire on April 12, 2020.  Because emergency conditions have not abated, FMCSA is extending Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 and associated regulatory relief in accordance with 49 CFR § 390.25.  This extension of the Emergency Declaration addresses national emergency conditions that create a need for immediate transportation of essential supplies, equipment and persons, and provides necessary relief from the FMCSRs for motor carriers and drivers engaged in the transport of essential supplies, equipment and persons.    

By execution of this extension of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002, motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks are granted emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the FMCSRs, except as restricted herein.  Direct assistance means transportation and other relief services provided by a motor carrier or its driver(s) incident to the immediate restoration of essential services (such as medical care) or essential supplies (such as food and fuel) related to COVID-19 outbreaks during the emergency.

The extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transportation to meet immediate needs for: (1) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; (2) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; (3) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores; (4) immediate precursor raw materials — such as paper, plastic or alcohol — that are required and to be used for the manufacture of items in categories (1), (2)

or (3); (5) fuel; (6) liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems; (7) equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19; (8) persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and (9) persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.  Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. Click here to see the Emergency Declaration.

UPDATE – APRIL 7, 2020

OPELIKA ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER TO LIMIT RETAIL AND GROCERY STORES


Opelilka Mayor Gary Fuller signed an Executive Order today which will limit the number of customers in retail and grocery stores within the Opelika city limits. Mayor Fuller was given full authority by the City Council on March 17 with the approval Ordinance No. 008-20-ORD (Emergency Ordinance Concerning The Coronavirus Public Health Emergency). The purpose of the new Executive Order is to prevent crowding at retail and grocery stores in order to protect the health of citizens in Opelika. VIOLATIONS OF THIS ORDER ARE PUNISHABLE AS A MISDEMEANOR.

Mayor Fuller expresses his gratitude to those store managers who have voluntarily implemented limits to the number of customers visiting.


“We started monitoring and noticed that some stores were not taking action on their own. Therefore, we determined that it was necessary to put some guidelines in place. Our primary objective is to keep our citizens safe, as well as the employees working in our retail and grocery stores. We have incredible merchants in Opelika and expect that they will fully cooperate with these requirements,” stated Mayor Fuller.The following guidelines are effective April 8, 2020 at 7 a.m.:

Social distancing:

  1. Allow no more than 20 percent of stated fire capacity in the store at a time. (Note this reduced capacity is approximately 150 square feet per person.) Twenty percent capacity limit does not apply to employees. Stores are required to count the number of customers entering and exiting the store and to enforce this as the emergency maximum occupancy.
  2. Clearly mark 6 foot spacing in lines and other high-traffic areas and consider ways to encourage spacing if there are lines outside. Consider posting signage or using ropes to direct customers and to limit bottlenecks/encourage flow in high-density areas of stores.
  3. Designate employees to monitor social distancing and assist customers.
  4. Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout.

Cleaning and sanitation:

  1. Designate employee(s) to ensure the cleaning guidelines set by the CDC are followed.
  2. Discontinue self-serve foods and product sampling.

Notice:

  1. Post a conspicuous notice of the store’s emergency maximum occupancy at all entrances. Limit time in store, especially for vulnerable populations.
  2. Consider exclusive hours for those in high-risk populations, including seniors, where stores will limit their capacity to 10 percent of fire capacity at any time.
  3. Larger grocery stores and retailers (those with greater than 25,000 SF), are encouraged to offer pickup and/or delivery options.


The order remains in effect until such time it is rescinded by Mayoral Order.
https://www.opelika-al.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2464/EXECUTIVE-ORDER-BY-THE-MAYOR

UPDATE – APRIL 6, 2020

MOBILE AMENDS GUIDELINES FOR RETAILERS

Retail and grocery stores in the City of Mobile are directed to institute the following guidelines as of April 4, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.

Social distancing: Retail and Grocery Stores

1. Allow no more than 40% of stated fire capacity in the store at a time. To calculate the maximum number of occupants permitted, either (a) divide the maximum capacity allowed by 2 or (b) divide the total square footage of the sales space by 60.  The 50% capacity limit does not apply to employees. Require staff to count the number of customers entering and exiting the store and to enforce this as the emergency maximum occupancy.

2. Clearly mark 6’ spacing in lines and other high-traffic areas and consider ways to encourage spacing if there are lines outside. Consider posting signage or using ropes to direct customers and to limit bottlenecks/encourage flow in high-density areas of stores.

3. Designate employees to monitor social distancing and assist customers.

4. Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout.

Super Centers (i.e. Target, Costco, Sam’s and Wal-Mart)

5. Allow no more than 20% of stated fire capacity in the store at a time. To calculate the maximum number of occupants permitted, either (a) divide the maximum capacity allowed by 5 or (b) divide the total square footage of the sales space by 150.  The 20% capacity limit does not apply to employees. Require staff to count the number of customers entering and exiting the store and to enforce this as the emergency maximum occupancy.

6. Clearly mark 6’ spacing in lines and other high-traffic areas and consider ways to encourage spacing if there are lines outside. Consider posting signage or using ropes to direct customers and to limit bottlenecks/encourage flow in high-density areas of stores.

7. Designate employees to monitor social distancing and assist customers.

8. Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout. Cleaning and sanitation:

9. Designate employee(s) to ensure the cleaning guidelines set by the CDC are followed.

10. Discontinue self-serve foods and product sampling.

Notice:

11. Post a conspicuous notice of the store’s emergency maximum occupancy at all entrances. 

Limit time in store, especially for vulnerable populations:

12. Exclusive hours for those in high-risk populations, including seniors, where stores will limit their capacity to 10% of fire capacity at any time. 13. Larger grocery stores and retailers (those with greater than 25,000 SF), are encouraged to offer pickup and/or delivery options. 

UPDATE – APRIL 3, 2020

GOVERNOR IVEY ISSUES STAY AT HOME ORDER – LIMITS GROCERY STORES TO 50% MAXIMUM CAPACITY STATEWIDE

Effective Saturday, April 4, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., every person is ordered to stay at his or her place of residence except as necessary to perform any of the following “essential activities”:

To obtain necessary supplies.

To obtain or provide necessary services.

To attend religious services.

To take care of others.

To work.

To engage in outdoor activity.

To seek shelter.

To travel as required by law.

To see family members.

Effective Saturday, April 4, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all “essential retailers” as defined in paragraph 2, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and “big box” stores, shall comply with the following rules in addition to any other applicable provisions of this Order:

a. Emergency maximum occupancy rate. Occupancy shall be limited to no more than 50 percent of the normal occupancy load as determined by the fire marshal. This “emergency maximum occupancy rate” shall be posted in a conspicuous place, and enough staff shall be posted at the store entrances and exits to enforce this requirement.

b. Social distancing. An employee of the essential retailer place may not knowingly allow customers or patrons to congregate within six feet of one another.

c. Sanitation. The essential retailer shall take reasonable steps to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

This Order shall remain in full force and effect until 5:00 P.M. on April 30, 2020. Prior to 5:00 P.M. on April 30, 2020, a determination shall be made whether to extend this Order—or, if circumstances permit, to relax this Order.

This Order supersedes and preempts all orders previously issued by the State Health Officer and Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers concerning COVID-19 mitigation measures, and this Order shall remain in full force and effect until rescinded by order of the State Health Officer or its expiration. After the date this order is issued, the Jefferson and Mobile County Health Officers are authorized, after approval by the State Health Officer, to implement more stringent measures as local circumstances require.

This Order also supersedes and preempts any county and municipal orders or ordinances, whenever adopted, that purport to impose less stringent COVID-19-related curfew or quarantine measures.Click Here to read the entire Emergency Order from the State Health Officer.

UPDATE – APRIL 2, 2020

JASPER MAYOR LIMITS OCCUPANCY IN STORES STARTING ON APRIL 3, 2020 AT 7AM

Mayor David O’Mary has issued an Executive Order, effective as of 7 AM April 3rd, 2020 regarding occupancy and other guidelines for ALL retail and grocery stores located within the city limits. This order will be strictly enforced by Jasper Police and all city officials. The entire order is attached, and Bullets of the order are as follows:

1. Stores are to allow no more than 50% of the stated fire capacity to enter or remain inside the building at any time.

2. Stores remaining open to the public must also mark clearly 6′ in all checkout lines keeping those in line 6′ apart, and in all high traffic areas of the store.

3. Stores must designate employee(s) to specifically monitor social distancing and all guidelines here. This employee must be assigned to this job.

4. Maximize spacing at checkout

5. Follow all CDC cleaning guidelines, and assign employees to this task and maintain a written record of when tasks are completed.

6. No self service food, specifically convenience stores.

7. You must give notice and post notice in a conspicuous place of the store’s emergency capacity occupancy. This must be also posted at ALL entrances. 8. ALL stores conducting essential business and remaining open MUST have posted exclusive hours for high risk populations, including seniors citizens, still under the above occupancy area.


UPDATE – APRIL 1, 2020

MOBILE MAYOR LIMITS OCCUPANCY IN STORES STARTING ON APRIL 2, 2020 AT 7AM

In a press conference on Tuesday, March 31st, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson released details on his plan to reduce the number of people allowed in businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor said that stores will be limited to 40% of the capacity, plus employees for the building previously determined by the fire department. The limits will in place starting at 7 a.m. on Thursday, April 2.

According to the mayor, the businesses will be in charge of figuring out how to control how people will be allowed inside. Stores have been told to put lines on the ground near checkout lines to make sure customers are six feet apart, encouraged stores to have pick-up and delivery option in place and allow those most vulnerable to have special times to shop their stores.

Mayor Stimpson said businesses could be limited to 30% capacity if stores appear to be too crowded at 40%.

Mobile businesses will be ordered to end self-service food and free samples. They will also need to follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and sanitation. This executive order, which can be viewed by clicking here, includes grocery stores as well as other big box stores.

The order states:

Retail and grocery stores in the City of Mobile are directed to institute the following guidelines as of April 2, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.

Social distancing:

1. Allow no more than 40% of stated fire capacity in the store at a time. To calculate the maximum number of occupants permitted, please either (a) multiply the maximum occupancy amount times 0.4 or (b) divide the total square footage of the sales space by 75. 40% capacity limit does not apply to employees. Require staff to count the number of customers entering and exiting the store and to enforce this as the emergency maximum occupancy.

2. Clearly mark 6’ spacing in lines and other high-traffic areas and consider ways to encourage spacing if there are lines outside. Consider posting signage or using ropes to direct customers and to limit bottlenecks/encourage flow in high-density areas of stores.

3. Designate employees to monitor social distancing and assist customers.

4. Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout.

Cleaning and sanitation:

5. Designate employee(s) to ensure the cleaning guidelines set by the CDC are followed.

6. Discontinue self-serve foods and product sampling.

Notice:

7. Post a conspicuous notice of the store’s emergency maximum occupancy at all entrances.

Limit time in store, especially for vulnerable populations:

8. Exclusive hours for those in high-risk populations, including seniors, where stores will limit their capacity to 40% of fire capacity at any time.

9. Larger grocery stores and retailers (those with greater than 25,000 SF), are encouraged to offer pickup and/or delivery options. This Order shall remain in effect until such time as it is rescinded by Mayoral Order.

UPDATE – MARCH 27, 2020

GOVERNOR IVEY CLOSES ALL NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES STATEWIDE EFFECTIVE MARCH 28, 2020 AT 5PM

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has announced all nonessential businesses statewide are to be closed starting at 5pm on March 28, 2020 until April 17th.

Effective March 28, 2020 at 5:00 P.M., all non-work related gatherings of 10 persons or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. Employers shall take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.

Starting at 5 p.m. on March 28, nonessential businesses will be closed until April 17. Grocery Stores are were not included on the list of retail businesses. Only the following types of retail stores were included:

  • Furniture and home-furnishings stores
  • Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
  • Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
  • Department stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Book, craft, and music stores

To see the entire order and the full list, please click here

UPDATE – MARCH 27, 2020

TUSCALOOSA MAYOR EXTENDS PUBLIC SAFETY CURFEW TO 24 HOURS A DAY

Due to the rapidly developing situation, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has issued an executive order extending the public safety curfew for Tuscaloosa residents to 24 hours a day. The order will go into effect on Sunday, March 29 at 10 p.m. and continue in effect until midnight on Saturday, April 11. The order will be re-evaluated on Saturday, April 11.
 
Under the extended curfew, Tuscaloosa residents will be asked to remain in their home or place of residence at all times, leaving only for essential purposes. These purposes include but are not limited to: work at essential businesses; visiting essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, financial institutions and gas stations; providing care for others; retrieving to-go orders from restaurants; attending doctor’s appointments; and exercising outside – as long as six feet of social distance is maintained.
 
Businesses and places of employment that are considered essential may continue to operate under health protocols as outlined by the Alabama Department of Public Health. Such businesses include, but are not limited to: public safety and emergency services; public health & medical providers; utility providers; medical providers; media outlets; delivery services; organizations that provide or restock essential services such as food, fuel, pharmaceutical supplies or emergency supplies; and federal, state, county and city governments.
 
All non-essential businesses and services will be closed under this order.

UPDATE – MARCH 24, 2020

BIRMINGHAM ISSUES SHELTER-IN-PLACER ORDER

Late today the Birmingham City Council approved a “shelter-in-place” ordinance brought to them by Mayor Woodfin. The ordinance goes into effect immediately and stands until 12am on April 3rd.

The order does not apply to first responders, utilities contractors/employees, people seeking essential services such as groceries or medicine, federal, state, county or city employees. According to the ordinance, all nonessential businesses must comply with the new restrictions. However, it will not affect anyone’s ability to report to work at businesses that are permitted to remain open, utilize curbside pickup for restaurants, grocery stores, or go to medical appointments.

The ordinance does not add any businesses to the list of nonessential businesses that have been ordered to close by the Jefferson County Department of Health.

The ordinance states that all Birmingham residents are to remain in their places of residence and shall not be or remain in public places. The following exceptions apply:

  • public safety or emergency service activities, including but not limited to law enforcement, fire and rescue services, and emergency management agencies.
  • first responders, crisis intervention workers, public health workers, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, and related contractors
  • persons employed by or contracted to utilities, cable and telecommunication companies and engaged in activities necessary to maintain or restore utility, cable and telecommunications services
  • persons providing fire, police, sanitation, security, emergency and hospital services, food delivery services and other deliveries of merchandise or mail
  • persons seeking essential services of commodities; persons who are vulnerable to the most serious effects of COVID-19 disease must remain at home, unless seeking medical treatment
  • persons supplying or restocking businesses in order to provide essential services or products, i.e. home improvement, groceries, fuel delivery locations, pharmacies or other retailers offering emergency supplies, transportation of fuels, movement of equipment and personnel for the provision of humanitarian support, and movement of equipment necessary for the protection of critical infrastructure or public safety
  • persons employed by the federal, state, county or city government or their agencies working within the course and scope of their public service employment. Such employees shall follow any current or future directives regarding performance of their duties, including working from home, issued by their respective employers.
  • persons experiencing homelessness within the City.

To read the entire ordinance, please click here

UPDATE – MARCH 23, 2020

GOVERNOR IVEY DELAYS STATE TAX FILING, CORPORATE TAX INCOME, FINANCIAL INSTITUTION EXCISE TAX & BUSINESS PRIVILEGE TAX

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Revenue announced today that the state income tax filing due date is extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020.

Taxpayers can also defer state income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This deferment applies to all taxpayers, including individuals, trusts and estates, corporations and other non-corporate tax filers.

“This morning, I signed a supplemental State of Emergency order to allow the Alabama Department of Revenue to extend state filings until July 15, 2020,” said Governor Ivey. “It is imperative we reduce the burden upon Alabamians and get folks back on their feet financially. The safety and wellbeing of Alabamians is the paramount priority as we do everything within our power to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus.”

Other taxes included in the deadline extension are corporate income tax, the Financial Institution Excise Tax (FIET), and the Business Privilege Tax (BPT).

Taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the Alabama Department of Revenue to qualify for this automatic state tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension through the usual methods.

“Even considering the extended filing deadline, we urge taxpayers who are owed refunds to file as soon as possible and file electronically,” said Revenue Commissioner Vernon Barnett. “Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds. Although the Department is practicing prudent working conditions with our staff during this period, we will continue with mission-critical operations to support Alabama’s citizens. We ask for your support, understanding and patience.”

The Department will continue to monitor issues related to the COVID-19 virus, and updated information will be posted on the Department’s website Coronavirus page.

Third Supplemental COVID-19 State of Emergency Proclamation

Commissioner’s Executive Order pertaining to deadline extensions

Commissioner’s Executive Order pertaining to composite returns

UPDATE – MARCH 23, 2020

JEFFERSON COUNTY TIGHTENS RESTRICTIONS EFFECTIVE MONDAY, MARCH 23RD AT 5PM

Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all nonessential businesses and services shall be closed.

Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., all businesses not on the list for closure, including pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, electronic stores, and services for telecommunications, hardware, office supplies, and building supply businesses must operate under the following conditions:

Prior to April 6, 2020, a determination shall be made about whether to extend this provision.

Effective immediately, all gatherings of 10 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited until further notice. This Order shall apply to all gatherings, events, or activities that bring 10 or more persons in a single space at the same time.

Click Here to read the entire Order. Click Here to see the Posters of Essential and Non-Essential Businesses as of March 23, 2020.

UPDATE – MARCH 21, 2020

VEHICLES PROVIDING DIRECT ASSISTANCE IN SUPPORT OF COVID-19 RELIEF EFFORTS MAY CARRY 90,000 LBS. GROSS WEIGHT ON STATE AND INTERSTATE ROUTES IN ALABAMA

In accordance with the Governor’s Public Health Emergency Proclamation of March 13, 2020, and the Supplemental Proclamation of March 20, 2020 the legal weight limit is modified as follows:

Vehicles (five-axle or six-axle only) providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks may carry 90,000 lbs. gross weight on state and interstate routes in Alabama, as restricted herein.

This increase in weight limit does not provide any exception to the requirement to comply with any and all posted limits for weight and size.

Direct assistance means transportation of items to meet immediate needs for: (1) medical supplies and equipment related to testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; (2) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, soap and disinfectants; (3) food and grocery items for emergency restocking of stores; (4) equipment and supplies necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19.

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, or transportation of loads that include a mixture of supplies and equipment for both COVID-19 relief efforts and for regular commercial activity.

A COPY OF THIS DOCUMENT MUST BE CARRIED IN THE VEHICLE AND PRESENTED FOR INSPECTION UPON REQUEST.Click here to see the full declaration

UPDATE – MARCH 20, 2020

GOVERNOR IVEY ISSUES CLARITY ON STATEWIDE PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) on Friday issued an update to the statewide health order to aid in Alabama’s efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Effective today, all non-work related gatherings of 25 persons or more, or non-work related gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. Employers shall take all reasonable steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.

The updated order also expands the availability of child day care in the state as long as certain guidelines are followed, and includes clarifying language regarding senior citizen centers and schools.

Governor Kay Ivey: “As our state works in overdrive to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic, we are making decisions based on the best information we have in the moment. I have no doubt that as this situation rapidly unfolds, decisions will need to be evaluated and amended.

“Yesterday’s health order was issued to be as comprehensive as possible to combat the spread of the virus and to ensure the state was doing everything within its authority to protect the people of Alabama.

“In order to keep Alabama going, we must keep Alabama businesses going to the best of our abilities. I fully support the restrictions of social or recreational gatherings of 25 people or less and strongly encourage individuals to maintain a six-foot distance. However, this order was intended to apply to non-work-related gatherings. However, employers should take all necessary steps to meet these standards for employees and customers.

“Let me be abundantly clear – I have no intention of slowing down our workforce through unnecessary, burdensome regulations. We will only be able to mitigate the risk of the virus through the efforts of our hardworking manufacturers that will produce life-sustaining supplies, our truckers who move these goods down the road, and our valued retailers that will make them available to our citizens.

“My administration has been given clear instructions to do everything possible to ensure the continuity of government while being flexible and responsible to the needs of our state. I ask for the support of my fellow Alabamians as we work through these challenging days together.”

UPDATE – MARCH 19, 2020

Governor Ivey Issues Statement on Statewide Public Health Order

Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) on Thursday issued a statewide health order to aid in Alabama’s efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Statewide through April 5:

  • All gatherings of 25 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between persons, are prohibited. This Order shall apply to all gatherings, events or activities that bring 25 or more persons in a single room or single space at the same time.
  • Any restaurant, bar, brewery or similar establishments shall not permit on-premise consumption of food or drink. Governor Ivey continues to encourage patrons to visit their local eateries for take-out or delivery provided the social distancing protocols include maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons are followed.
  • All beaches will be closed effective today at 5:00 p.m. For clarification, the term “beach” means the sandy shoreline area abutting the Gulf of Mexico, whether privately or publicly owned, including beach access points.
  • Preschools and childcare centers will be closed effective at close of school or business today. This shall not apply to licensed childcare centers that provide services exclusively to employees with: State and Local Governments, First Responders (including EMS and Fire Services), Law Enforcement, Hospitals, Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities), End Stage Renal Disease Treatment Centers, Pharmacies and grocery stores.
  • Effective immediately, all Hospitals and Nursing Home/Long Term Care Facilities (including Assisted Living and Specialty Care Assisted Living Facilities) shall prohibit visitation of all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations such as maternity and end-of-life.
  • All elective dental and medical procedures shall be delayed, effective immediately.

Governor Kay Ivey: “Despite our best efforts, the threat of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread and, unfortunately, we have not yet reached peak impact. The decision to place regulations upon Alabamians living in Jefferson County and its surrounding counties was an effort to contain the area in which the virus has been prevalent in our state.

“As of this morning, 68 individuals have tested positive for the Coronavirus in Alabama. While I am pleased that many of our citizens are self-regulating and are practicing social distancing, we want to ensure that Alabama is doing our part to flatten the curve.

“Closing Alabama beaches is not a simple decision but one that I came to with the consultation of our elected officials along the coast and members of my administration. After many rounds of conversations with local leaders, in which we discussed several options, I have decided to close beach access in any form. Since we do not want to promote social gatherings, keeping the beaches open sends the wrong message to the public. At this moment, the safety and wellbeing of Alabamians is paramount.

“In addition, we rely heavily upon our first responders and critical healthcare workers to help those who are ill, as well as essential state government employees to keep the continuity of government, and many of them struggle with dependent childcare if daycares close. As a result, I have asked the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Department of Public Health to explore emergency rulemaking to make critical exemptions to allow for daycare to be provided for these areas of crucial personnel.

“My administration – and all the services of state government – are going to be as flexible as humanly possible to help make your government work for you during the coming days and weeks. I want to the thank the people of our great state for their continued patience and for taking great care of themselves and each other during this pandemic.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “We understand that the health orders issued will be a hardship on Alabamians.  We must, first and foremost, protect the health and safety of our citizens.  This decision has not been made lightly and will help to prevent the spread of this virus.”Dr. Scott Harris and the Alabama Department of Public Health will host a webcast press conference to give further details this afternoon at 2:00 p.m

UPDATE – MARCH 18, 2020

FDA Focuses on Safety of Regulated Products While Scaling Back Domestic Inspections

Protecting the health and safety of our staff and their families is of paramount concern to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As a nation we must do everything we can to help slow the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, the American people are depending on us. We must ensure our workforce remains healthy to carry out the FDA’s critical public health mission to keep Americans safe.

In keeping with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and cross-government guidance, this week we directed all eligible FDA employees to begin teleworking. While this does not apply to those carrying out non-portable activities, such as certain lab activities or the monitoring of imported products, we will continue to adjust our approach to a number of activities, including facility inspections for all FDA-regulated products such as food, animal feed, drugs, biological products, devices and tobacco.

Earlier this month, we announced that we are postponing most foreign facility inspections through April and that inspections outside the U.S. deemed mission-critical will be considered on a case-by-case basis as this outbreak continues to unfold.

Today, we’re announcing that for the health and well-being of our staff and those who conduct inspections for the agency under contract at the state level, and because of industry concerns about visitors, we have temporarily postponed all domestic routine surveillance facility inspections. These are facility inspections the FDA traditionally conducts every few years based on a risk analysis. Importantly, all domestic for-cause inspection assignments will be evaluated and will proceed if mission-critical. We will continue to respond to natural disasters, outbreaks and other public health emergencies involving FDA-regulated products.

I want to assure the American public that we have full confidence in the safety and quality of the products we all use every day and that the FDA will continue to leverage all available authorities to continue to ensure the integrity of the products we regulate.

Importantly, during this interim period we’re evaluating additional ways to conduct our inspectional work that would not jeopardize public safety and protecting both the firms and the FDA staff. This can include, among other things, evaluating records in lieu of conducting an onsite inspection on an interim basis when travel is not permissible, when appropriate.

In fact, inspections are just one part of a robust and multi-pronged approach to overseeing the safety and quality of FDA-regulated products, however inspections are not what cause quality to happen. Safety and quality need to be owned by the industry and firms have the primary responsibility to reliably produce quality products. For example, the medical product and food industries we regulate are subject to certain reporting requirements about their facilities and also must adhere to Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements pertaining to, for example, operating procedures, manufacturing, sanitation, and processing controls, as well as preventive controls to reduce or eliminate food safety hazards.

From our experience across the agency, we also believe FDA-regulated firms understand and appreciate their shared responsibility to ensure the integrity of the supply chain and we will continue to communicate with them during this time to underscore this partnership. In fact, in last fiscal year, the overall domestic violation rate was only about 5%.

The FDA remains committed to using all available tools to oversee the safety and quality of FDA-regulated products for American patients and consumers. As this remains a dynamic situation, we will continue to assess and calibrate our approach as needed and we stand ready to resume any postponed inspections as soon as feasible.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

UPDATE – MARCH 18, 2020

MOBILE COUNTY SUSPENDS ON-PREMISE CONSUMPTION OF FOOD OR DRINKS

Mobile County Health Officer Dr. Bernard Eichold II has issued orders shutting down on-premise consumption at all restaurants, bars, breweries and Priority Category 3 food service establishments for one week starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The order also prohibits visitors and non-essential health care personnel at nursing homes and long-term care facilities and requires senior centers to close to all gatherings. “In order to prevent what is happening in Birmingham, we are issuing these orders,” Dr. Eichold said in a health department statement, in reference to Jefferson County having almost two dozen positive coronavirus test results.

Click Here to read the Press Release from the Mobile County Health Department.

UPDATE – MARCH 18, 2020

ABC BOARD TO ALLOW EMERGENCY CURBSIDE ALCOHOL DELIVERY

The ABC Board is allowing emergency curbside alcohol delivery with the closure of so many of their retail stores during the COVID-19.  Grocers can already do curbside legally but some are choosing not to for a variety of reasons and we do have plans to amend those regulations soon.  However, in the meantime, grocers can choose to implement these emergency curbside alcohol sales.   

Attached are the new regulations.

1.  An Alabama licensee who holds a license that allows the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption only and/or off-premise consumption may now sell for off-premise consumption only using curbside pick-up or take-out services with the following restrictions:

  • All alcoholic beverages must be in a sealed, unopened container.
  • The licensee may sell no more than one 750 ml bottle of spirits, one 750 ml bottle of wine or one six pack of beer per customer.
  • The employee processing and handling the pick-up or take-out must be over 21 years of age.
  • The licensee or employee processing and handling the pick-up or take out order must use identification as listed in ABC Rules and Regulations 20-X-6-.09(d)
  • The licensee is responsible for following all other ABC Rules and Regulations and Title 28, Code of Alabama 1975.

UPDATE – MARCH 17, 2020

JEFFERSON AND SURROUNDING COUNTIES SUSPEND ON-PREMISE CONSUMPTION OF FOOD OR DRINKS

Effective March 17th, 2020, any restaurant, bar, brewery or establishment that offers food or drink, including those in food courts, shall not permit on-premises consumption of food or drink for one week. This order shall be reevaluated prior to Tuesday, March 24, 2020 for possible modification. 

a. Such establishments may continue to offer food for take-out of delivery provided the social distancing protocols including maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons are followed. 

b. Such establishments are strongly encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pick-up of food. 

c. Hospital food service areas are excluded from this order provided they have their own social distancing plan. 

To read the entire order, please click here.

This morning the Alabama Department of Public Health said in a press conference that effective at 5pm today, March 17th for Tuscaloosa, Shelby, Walker, Blount and St. Clair counties – any restaurant, bar, brewery, or category 3 food service establishment shall not permit on-premise consumption of food or drink for one week. ADPH is also strongly encouraging other counties across the state to adhere to these same guidelines. Please click here to watch the press conference from the ADPH this morning. To read the ordinance, click here.

We have spoken to Mark Sestak, Deputy Director, Division of Food, Milk & Lodging for the Alabama Department of Public Health to receive additional guidance on how this ordinance will effect the grocery industry and his statement was: “Grocery stores in general are not affected by the emergency order, but still should implement social distancing throughout the store and suspend any on premises dining /seating & bar service if present for the time being.” 


UPDATE – MARCH 16, 2020

New Update from the Alabama Department of Public Health Regarding Public Gatherings

In response to the increasing number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Alabama, The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is making the following recommendations concerning public gatherings, food establishment and other retail venues, and businesses:

  • No mass gatherings of 50 persons or more, or gatherings of any size that cannot maintain a consistent six-foot distance between participants (with exceptions noted below). This may include festivals, parades, assemblies, or sporting events.
  • Senior adults or those with chronic health problems should avoid gatherings (outside of close family) of 10 or more persons, and should avoid travel by air, train or bus.
  • For retail business, including restaurants, limit patronage at any one time to 50% of the normally allowable capacity. Restaurants should maintain a six-foot distance between tables.
  • Public buildings should consider whether visitation may be limited. Hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are encouraged to implement visitation policies that protect vulnerable persons.
  • All persons should consider whether out-of-state travel plans may be delayed or cancelled.
  • Participants in religious services or events, weddings, funerals and family events should exercise prudence and maintain consistent six-foot distance between participants if possible.

While workplaces should attempt to heed to these recommendations whenever possible, it is understood that exceptions may be needed for essential government functions, municipal and state legislative bodies, and health care facilities including clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. Consider using means for electronic or video meetings in workplaces if possible. Click Here to read the full statement.


UPDATE – MARCH 13, 2020

Governor Ivey Issues State of Emergency. It includes a Waiver for DOT Hours of Service and Enforcement of Price Gauging. Click here to see the Declaration.


UPDATE – MARCH 13, 2020

Governor Ivey Releases Statement on Alabama’s First Confirmed Coronavirus Case

MONTGOMERY (March 13)– Governor Kay Ivey on Friday, upon learning of Alabama’s first confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) case, released the following statement:

“Along with my fellow Alabamians, I have closely monitored the rapidly changing events regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a state, we have taken precautionary measures and made preparations in the case that the virus would eventually reach our state. As I have emphasized time and again, the safety and health of Alabamians is paramount.

“Alabamians are smart and savvy, and I know they will continue taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread to themselves or others. We have taken a calm and collected approach in preparation for this first confirmed case, and we need to remember that calm and steady wins the race. Alabamians should not be fearful, but instead, use commonsense to watch out for themselves and others. We will remain engaged on the matter and continue prioritizing the health and wellbeing of all Alabamians.

“I am grateful to the work of State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, as well as the members of my Coronavirus Task Force and countless individuals who are also watching and working on this situation closely.”

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris: “The Alabama Department of Public Health has worked hard to prepare and has anticipated receiving a report of the first case of COVID-19 in an Alabama resident. We continue to recommend that people be prudent and encourage them to use proper hygiene behaviors such as handwashing, not touching their faces with unwashed hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if they have fever. As a precaution, it is suggested that any gatherings of more than 500 people be postponed or canceled.”