Gov. Kay Ivey amended the Safer at Home order on Thursday, and extended the mask order until Friday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m.
The order was originally set to expire this Sunday. It will now remain in effect until Dec. 11. Ivey said she originally hoped to let the mask order expire at this time, but that's not possible with current trends in the state. However, she says it could soon be up to each person to decide on whether or not they should wear a mask.
There were a few changes made to the Safer at Home order that goes into effect on Sunday. Stores, gyms and entertainment venues can now operate at full capacity. Close-contact businesses can also increase capacity as long as people are wearing masks and are separated by plexiglass.
Dr. Scott Harris, State Health Officer, said that even though the capacity restriction was lifted, it does not stop any business from taking other coronavirus precautions like maintaining social distancing and increased cleaning efforts.
Drake's in Huntsville is one restaurant that's very happy about the governor's changes. They said the new order will help not only employees but also reduce wait times for customers.
Lucien Desselle, the general manager at Drake's in Huntsville, said the restaurant installed plexiglass barriers at every table in the back of the restaurant months ago to be prepared if and when capacity limits were lifted and staff could return to normal shifts.
"We were hoping that this was something that was going to be coming eventually, and now that it has, we can definitely start opening up our inside restaurant to 100% capacity," he said. "It pretty much eliminated one whole section for our service staff, so we had to eliminate one server per shift, which definitely hurts them and our restaurant."
Desselle explained they've seen the wait time creep up to about 40 minutes on some nights because of the blocked off tables.
"Even four, five or six more tables are going to allow for people to come in and have less people on wait keep our wait time shorter," he said.
Plexiglass barriers are something the restaurant plans to keep in place.
"You actually don't even notice that they're there. They're translucent, so sometimes if you don't even know, you might bump into it a little bit," he said.
Desselle said they already have dividers for the bar seating at the restaurant ready to install, so they're hoping to have the bar back up to full capacity soon.
Drake's said the current coronavirus restrictions caused them to lose the use of eight tables and many bar seats in the restaurant.