State puts new restrictions on businesses

On Thursday, the Alabama Department of Health ordered all Alabama restaurants and bars to go to take-out or delivery only, part of a sweeping set of regulations designed to curb the growth of COVID-19 coronavirus. Social distancing protocols call for maintaining a consistent six-foot distance between persons until at least April 6.

Faced with empty dining rooms, several local restaurants and bars had already started offering food deliveries and take-out orders that reduce the risk of contagion as compared to packed tables. All restaurants are encouraged to offer online ordering and curbside pick-up of food.

Alabama’s state-owned liquor ABC stores have closed, but an emergency order allows curbside sales of alcoholic beverages at licensed locations in the state – just not “drinks to go.” Carter’s Beverages is remaining open, but also offers curbside service, according to Laurie Carter.

Jordan Doufexis is a partner with the local food delivery service Go Native, which specifically focuses on locally owned businesses in rural Alabama.

The delivery service has been a great option for homebound seniors, but now it is taking off among DeKalb residents sheltering in place to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in users and businesses coming onboard,” he said.

“We started the week with 30 restaurants and grocery stores and will end the week with 50.”

The increased demand for food delivery has made Go Native one of the few businesses in the area eager to hire in the new economy. It is a particularly desperate time for servers, bartenders and others who rely on a packed house.

“We’re working with some of our restaurants like Santa Fe and Mi Casita who have had to close their dining rooms but are still looking to take care of their employees during this time,” Doufexis said.

Go Native offers delivery of groceries from Bruce’s Foodland stores in Fort Payne, Rainsville and Scottsboro. Users choose a one-hour window for their groceries to be delivered and Foodland employees do the selection and bagging of items.

The Go Native driver picks up the order and takes it to the buyer’s door.

Deliveries from retail orders are typically made between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. First-time users can login quickly with their Facebook login or set up an account by entering their name, email address and creating a password.

To download the Go Native app, visit https://www.gonative.app/ from a smartphone. Versions of the app are available for iOS or from Google Play.

To get your restaurant on the service, call Doufexis at (256) 273-9262.

DoorDash, which includes Fort Payne and Scottsboro among the 850 cities to which it delivers. Users can request a “no-contact delivery” in which the delivery drive sends a text message to confirm they’ve left the order at the requested drop-off location.

GrubHub also makes limited deliveries in the area.

Uber Eats is a similar service, but does not deliver to DeKalb County.

BringMeThat.com allows orders from more than 150,000 restaurants across the U.S.

Some states are issuing directives ordering residents to stay at home, but California’s order Thursday night allows that state’s citizens to continue to visit gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, banks and laundromats. People there can also leave their homes to care for a relative or a friend or seek healthcare services.

An Alabama senator said this week he will sponsor a bill intended to give businesses immunity from liability for those who claim they caught the coronavirus on a business’ property, retroactive to March 1 of this year.

“If a business chooses to remain open to the public in these desperate days, it is fearful of potential lawsuits based on COVID-19. Helping keep employees working should be important to every Alabamian,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.

His proposed bill would not apply to unlicensed companies or licensed companies affected by any specific mandate declared by Gov. Ivey under the state of emergency.

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