By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce officials have canceled three upcoming events, including Easter in the Park, along with the final two sessions of Leadership Atmore, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The fate of this year’s Mayfest celebration, initially scheduled for May 2 at Tom Byrne Park, remained up in the air as April approached.
Executive Director Emily Wilson announced that the popular Easter in the Park event, scheduled for April 11, the Past Presidents Luncheon that was set for March 30, and the Business After 5, scheduled for April 9 at HealthActions Physical Therapy, and Business Education Series have all been canceled.
Wilson said the cancellations were based upon the executive order issued by Gov. Kay Ivey that prohibits a gathering of 25 people or more in a closed environment, where a six-foot distance cannot be maintained between those who congregate.
“As we continue to learn about more confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the globe and here in Alabama, we want to ensure that we’re following the recommendations set forth by Governor Ivey, the Alabama Department of (Public) Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the executive director said in a blanket email. “It is with that in mind that we want to make you aware that Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce has taken (those) steps to comply with the March 19 Statewide Public Health Order issued by Governor Ivey to be in effect until April 5.”
Wilson said the Chamber’s Leadership Atmore Committee decided to forego the program’s final two sessions. The graduation ceremony for this year’s class will still be held, but at a date to be announced later.
“After much consideration it has been determined that the remaining two sessions have been cancelled,” she said. “The program is still planning on holding graduation, which will probably be in the summer sometime. Leadership Atmore has invited this year’s class to attend the missed sessions with Leadership Class of 2021. More information about this option will be shared with the current class when the time comes.”
Chamber officials have also closed the organization’s lobby, although personnel are still on hand to help with most questions that might arise, and canceled all member and non-member use of AACC’s conference room and other facilities. Those restrictions will be revisited on April 6.
“The Chamber is maintaining business as usual, but also wants to ensure that we’re aligning with best practices to do all we can to keep our community healthy,” Wilson said. “It has been determined that the Chamber lobby will be closed. However, we want to stress that the Chamber team is at the office and available to our members via e-mail (Info@AtmoreChamber.com) or phone (251-368-3305). Should you need the Chamber, we do ask that you please call us prior to visiting. We will make every effort to assist you.”
She added that whether or not Mayfest will take place will be determined by the directives and advice of government and health officials.
The Chamber’s board of directors is scheduled to meet Thursday, March 26, and the annual community celebration will be one of the topics.
“At this time the Chamber has not made a decision as it relates to the Miss Mayfest Pageant, Mayfest, or the Mayfest Softball Tournament,” Wilson said. “Once more information is available regarding these beloved events, the Chamber will share it with you. As the situation continues to evolve, please know that we are investing in our capabilities, time, and resources — reacting in real-time — to make sure we are here, supporting our members and community through this.”
Wilson said she and her staff have been working harder during the coronavirus situation than they normally do on any one event.
“We have been going hand-over-fist, as hard as we can, to read everything that has come in and to push information out as quickly as possible,” she said.