Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism is closely monitoring the evolution of coronavirus (COVID-19) by working with local, state and federal authorities. Both Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are working together with the authorities to ensure the health and well-being of both locals and visitors. Information provided is from official government sources including the CDC, Alabama Department of Public Health and/or Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency.
The CVB is advising those who contact us to adhere to their home state’s guidelines, especially regarding stay-at-home orders and not traveling to other destinations to quarantine, reminding them we are a small destination with limited healthcare resources.
On June 30, the State of Alabama extended the following “Safer at Home” guidelines through July 31 (when updated guidelines will be released).
“Safer at Home” guidelines:
- Entertainment venues and attractions can reopen and must enforce social distancing requirements of 6 feet between people not of the same household. This included bowling alleys, arcades, concert venues, theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers, tourist attractions such as museums and planetariums, racetracks, commercial or public playgrounds, casinos and bingo halls.
- Indoor and enclosed entertainment venues and attractions can reopen at 50% of normal capacity. Night clubs fall under guidelines for restaurants and bars which require all tables, bar stools or booths to be set 6-feet apart.
- Outdoor entertainment venues and attractions can reopen and must limit visitors to an amount that complies with 6-foot social distancing requirements.
- All employees must wear face coverings when interacting with the public.
- Full guidelines can be found in the Alabama Dept. of Public Health’s Guidelines for Entertainment Venues and Tourist Attractions.
- Team athletic activities for adult and youth sports can resume practices (conditioning, skill drills and similar activities), but sports events/competitions cannot start until June 15. Social distancing is required; players, coaches and officials must wear facial coverings at all times except when participating in the athletic activity; and additional requirements for coaches, players and spectators can be found in the Alabama Dept. of Public Health’s Guidelines for Adult and Youth Athletic Activities.
- Day and overnight camps can be held, but 6-foot social distancing must be enforced; camp employees must wear face coverings when interacting with campers and guests; and group activities must follow the same guidelines as listed for team athletic activities; additional requirements can be found in the Alabama Dept. of Public Health’s Guidelines for Day and Overnight Youth Camps.
Still in effect:
- Residents and visitors are still strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in public.
- People are still strongly encouraged to continue limiting trips out of their home/residence and continue following good hygiene/sanitation practices.
- All public and private beaches along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, including Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and the Fort Morgan peninsula are open for normal use with no limit on gatherings. People must maintain 6-foot social distancing between themselves and anyone not in their group.
- Pools at hotels and condominiums are open. However, people must maintain 6-foot social distancing at all times. Hotel and condominium properties may implement their own policies to best manage pool access.
- All public boat launches and waterways in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are open, as are all recreational trails, public fishing piers, golf and miniature golf courses, and boating. People are strongly encouraged to practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet from each other.
- Charter fishing is open, but boats must maintain 6-foot social distancing between clients not of the same household. Charter operators must also regularly disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.
- Grocery stores and pharmacies are open. Other retail stores are open and must limit shoppers to 50% of the store’s normal occupancy rate. Customers must practice 6-foot social distancing.
- Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 will be quarantined to their place of residence for 14 days after receiving a positive test result.
- Public gatherings: There are no limitations on numbers of people allowed to gather, but 6-foot social distancing between people from different households must be enforced. This means church worship services, weddings and funerals can resume, and churches must follow the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Guidelines for Places of Worship.
- All employers must take reasonable steps to protect employees by following the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Guidelines for Safeguarding All Businesses.
- All restaurants, bars, breweries and similar establishments (such as ice cream shops and coffee shops) can open to dine-in customers. These businesses must limit any party size to no more than 8 people, must ensure social distancing between tables, must require employees to wear face masks, and do away with self-service options like drink stations, buffets and salad bars. Full guidelines to follow are included in Alabama Department of Public Health’s Guidelines for Restaurants and Bars.
- Athletic facilities including fitness centers, yoga studios and other group exercise class facilities can open at up to 50% allowed capacity. Employees must wear face masks when interacting with customers, and recreational water or spa facilities (sauna, hot tub, showers, etc.) are to remain closed. Pools may open, but people must maintain 6-foot social distancing. These facilities should follow the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Guidelines for Athletic Facilities.
- Hair salons and barber shops; nail, waxing and tanning salons; spa and massage therapy facilities; and body art and tattoo studios can open. These businesses must enforce social distancing, employees must wear face masks at all times, and the facility must follow the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Guidelines for Close Contact Personal Service Businesses.
For details, reference the following documents:
- The State of Alabama’s updated Statewide Health Order
- Amended "Safer at Home" Info Sheet
- Amended “Safer at Home” One Sheet
- Beaches FAQ
TRAVEL SENTIMENT RESEARCH FINDINGS
Destination Analysts has been continuously researching travel sentiment in the wake of coronavirus. View the report here to learn more about how people are feeling about travel, top travel experiences and how they expect businesses to prioritize safety during this time.
As of Friday, May 1, both of our welcome centers have reopened with many new safety measures in place for guests and staff. Visit our Welcome Center page to learn more about those details and the temporary change to our weekend hours.
Recommendations for local business
As visitors are returning to our area, GSOBT strongly recommends that industry partners be very open in communicating the cleaning and safety protocols you are implementing at your business to ensure the safety of your employees and guests. Based on traveler sentiment studies GSOBT has reviewed, visitors will want to know specifics on what lodging properties, restaurants, attractions, etc. are doing as it relates to cleanliness and health safety. Please consider detailing this information on your website, social media channels and on-site at your business, as well as training your employees to know these protocols by heart so they can quickly and confidently answer guest questions. Visit our RESOURCES page for recently issued guidelines.
Restaurant Closures & Modifications
Restaurants who have elected to close temporarily will be indicated as such on the business listing on our website. For any changes please contact, Jeff Rodewald at [email protected].
Other Business Closures & Modifications
Due to the updated public health order released March 27, area non-essential businesses have been impacted. Many have temporarily closed, and others have modified their services to comply with the new guidelines. For any changes please contact Jeff Rodewald at [email protected].
Visit our business resources page for a complete listing of local and national resources and relief efforts.
GSOBT’s current marketing strategy encourages people to stay safe, healthy and to return to the destination when the time is right for them. Our comeback campaign for both leisure and meetings audiences launched on May 8 following the release of the state’s updated health order. The sports comeback campaign will launch when the state approves opening of those facilities.
Questions? Please contact Kim Chapman.