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AG says police can enforce emergency health orders; COVID-19 case count updated


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has confirmed the ability of state law enforcement agencies to enforce emergency state health orders issued last week. A memo to all state law enforcement agencies noted that any person or group willingly breaking the directives can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $500 for each day they violate the rules.

The emergency orders issued by Gov. Ivey and the Alabama Department of Public Health on Thursday and updated on Friday include:

— 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.
— All public and private beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are closed.
— All regular programs at senior citizens centers are to have ceased.
— All schools are closed for any in-person instructions or classes.
— Restaurants, bars, breweries, or similar establishments are not to permit on-premises consumption of food or drink. Carry out, delivery, and curbside pickup are allowed and encouraged.
— All elective dental and medical procedures are to be delayed.
— No visitors are permitted at hospitals and nursing homes.
— Child care facilities must keep the number of children in any room or other enclosed space below a dozen.

All non-essential businesses in Jefferson County were ordered closed, and states of emergency were declared in Sylacauga and in Talladega County, with similar directives from Sylacauga’s mayor, all with the goal of slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, preventing the health care system from being overwhelmed, and positioning government agencies to promptly respond.

Marshall encouraged law enforcement officers to enforce the orders on a case-by-case basis, initially with a warning. Although continued violations could lead to arrest, Marshall noted that “the unprecedented nature of this pandemic and the government’s evolving response seem to demand some restraint related to criminal enforcement of this order, if a violator has been made aware of the state health order and the refusal to comply presents a threat to public health and safety … penalties are available as an enforcement tool.”

The Governor also authorized Alabama National Guard to activate 100 guardsmen on as as-needed basis.

As of Sunday morning, ADPH was reporting completion of 1,602 tests for COVID-19 and confirmed 157 cases in 21 counties — with one in Talladega County — but no related deaths.

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