Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announces the renewal of a state ordinance mandating face masks in public during a news conference on July 29, 2020 in Montgomery, Ala.
Kim Chandler | AP
Alabama plans to overturn a statewide ordinance requiring people to wear masks in public on April 9, even if Governor Kay Ivey extends the state declaration of emergency for Covid-19 by 60 days.
“Let me be very clear that after April 9, I will no longer keep the mask order in effect,” said Ivey on Thursday.
Ivey extended mask orders and other health measures, which should expire on March 8, to give companies enough time to implement their own guidelines, she announced at a press conference. The governor urged residents to continue wearing face coverings even though the state will no longer mandate them.
“While I am convinced that a mask mandate was the right thing to do, I also respect those who object and believe that this was a step too far in going beyond government,” said Ivey.
The state’s expanded “Safer at Home” regulation, which now runs through April 9, allows restaurants and bars to operate without group size restrictions, although tables must meet additional sanitary requirements and remain 6 feet apart.
The ordinance allows senior centers to resume their outdoor activities, and hospitals and nursing homes can each welcome one additional visitor. The state’s public health declaration of emergency now expires on May 7th.
The governor noted that state hospitals have reported a 77% decrease in their weekly average number of daily Covid patients, about 686 people since peaking in mid-January. While Alabama is going in the “right direction,” Ivey said the expanded order will give the state more time to give residents their first dose of a vaccine.
According to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 674,800 Alabama residents have received at least one dose of vaccine – nearly 14% of the total.
The Republican governor’s decision to lift the state’s mask mandate comes just days after both Texas and Mississippi announced similar moves on Tuesday. However, President Joe Biden and senior US health officials criticized the decision as a “big mistake”.
“We are on the verge of fundamentally changing the nature of this disease because we can get vaccines into people’s arms. … The last, the last thing we need is the Neanderthals’ thinking. That,” In the meantime Is everything ok. Take off your mask. Forget it. “It’s still important,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday.
Correction: This article has been updated to correct the date the Safer Home order will be fulfilled. It expires on April 9th at 5 p.m.