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Law enforcement addresses ‘stay at home’

Understanding just what enforcement of the “stay-at-home” order means has many residents in Pike County and throughout the state asking questions of law enforcement.

“There have been a lot of questions,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr. “Nobody I’ve talked to has ever lived through anything like this and it’s different …

“We’re all learning as we go through it.”

The stay-at-home order, which also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people for non-work purposes and allows operation of only essential businesses, is designed to contain the spread of COVID-19. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the Alabama reported 2,472 confirmed cases, with 67 reported deaths and 314 hospitalizations statewide. Pike County reported 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including a resident at a long-term care facility.

Barr said the stay-at-home order issued last week by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey doesn’t prohibit residents from being out of their homes.

“You can leave your house for certain reasons, but the point is you don’t need to look for a reason to go out,” he said. “And if you do need to leave your home, go do what you need to do – keeping socially distant – then go back home.”

The stay-at-home order instructs Alabama residents to stay home unless working or traveling to essential businesses, such as grocery stores; restaurants; pharmacies; or other businesses.

“I’ve had some people ask ‘do I need a letter to go to work’ and if your company wants to give you a letter that’s great, but it’s not necessary,” Barr said.

The public health order also limits capacity in grocery stores to 50 percent of the fire code approved capacity and prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people.

“We’ve had to have a few conversations with folks who had gathered in larger groups, but we haven’t had to issue any citations yet,” Barr said. “Hopefully, we’ll get through this without having to issue any citations.”

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency also is receiving a high number of inquiries from motorists concerned about enforcement of the order, particularly relating to travel in or out of the state. The ALEA said no checkpoints have been established at state lines and no effort is being made to ban motorists from entering the state.

“These are rumors,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor. “ALEA State Troopers continue to patrol roadways daily, to promote public safety and to enforce the law. There are no plans to shut down our state borders.”

According to the stay-at-home order in effect until 5 p.m. April 30, every person is ordered to stay at his or her place of residence except as necessary to perform “essential” activity. There are exceptions, all of which are listed https://www.alea.gov/covid-19-response.