Alabama’s statewide mask mandate to end April 9

Alex Hopper, News Editor

Earlier in March, Gov. Kay Ivey stated that the state mask mandate would be lifted on April 9. 

Ivey reasoned this announcement would give a one-month window for businesses to implement their own policies and make necessary adjustments ahead of the mandate’s expiration. 

However, Ivey said the April 9 expiration would be a hard deadline and would not be extended.

“After that, it’ll be personal responsibility,” said Ivey. 

This decision was a departure from other southern states, Miss. and Texas, who decided to lift their mask mandate last month. 

Now, as April 9 is approaching, for the first time in over a year Alabamians will not be required to wear a mask in public. 

Ahead of the mandate ending, the details of the “Safer at Home” order implemented last July were changed.  

Restaurants, bars, and breweries no longer have to limit party size or keep up partitions. Outdoor programs will be allowed for senior citizens. Hospital and nursing home residents can have up to two visitors. Lastly, summer camps can now be in operation while adhering to social distancing. 

The decision to end the mandate comes as Alabama has seen a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

Ivey also stated that the month-long window would also enable more people to receive at least their first dose of the vaccine. 

As reported by CBS news, nearly 650,000 Alabama residents have received at least one of the two COVID-19 vaccines available. More than 352,000 residents have been fully vaccinated.

Members of the Biden Administration are pushing for governors to continue extending their mask mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

“I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate,” said President Biden. “Please, this is not politics.”

Ivey’s spokesperson Gina Maiola provided a response to the President’s appeal. 

“We have made progress, and we are moving towards personal responsibility and common sense, not endless government mandates,” said Maiola. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s COVID-19 medical adviser, told MSNBC that “now is not the time to pull back.”

“We were going in the right direction. Now is the time to keep the foot on the accelerator and not pull off,” said Fauci.

That message was echoed by Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, who warned about another surge in COVID-19 cases if people prematurely remove safeguards. 

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” said Walensky according to the Alternative Press. 

“I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” said Walensky. 

Though Gov. Ivey stands by her decision to expire the mandate, she urges people to continue wearing masks in public.

“There’s no question that wearing masks has been one of the greatest tools in combating the spread of the virus,” said Ivey. “And even when we lift the mask order..I strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same thing.”

Following the mandate’s expiration, the state will likely see a varied system of policies from different cities and businesses. 

While local businesses may choose to not implement mask policies, several national retailers, such as Target, indicated they will continue requiring masks even after the mandate is lifted. 

Alabamians will have to see in the coming weeks whether or not lifting the mask mandate will have an effect on the state COVID-19 cases.