Ivey announces statewide mask order for Alabama
Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced that all Alabamians will be required to wear a mask when in public and within six feet of others.
The order goes into effect Thursday at 5:00 p.m. and is currently scheduled to continue until July 31.
Ivey’s statewide order supersedes all local mask orders; the rules set by the state will apply universally to every citizen in Alabama, and every mask rule put in place by a city government is now to be disregarded by the public.
The new order, which can be read here, has several categories of exceptions like young children and one called “practical necessity.”
Under Ivey’s order, businesses will not have to ban customers not wearing masks, however, they may choose to ban maskless individuals if they wish.
Ivey had previously declined to implement a statewide mask order, arguing it would be “unenforceable.”
“I still believe this is going to a difficult order to enforce,” remarked Ivey at a press conference on Wednesday in regards to that prior comment.
She said that the punishment for not obeying the new order is the same as not following the pre-existing State Health Order: a $500 fine or possible county jail time.
“We’re not asking our sheriffs and police officers to go out looking for people not wearing masks,” cautioned the governor.
“The goal is to emphasize the importance of people wearing face masks,” advised Ivey.
Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Alabama Department of Public Health, joined Ivey for the press conference.
He said the current COVID-19 numbers in Alabama “do not look good” and the state has added one-third of its cumulative cases in the last 14 days.
“We really don’t have a lot of other options at this time,” explained Harris about the mask order.
Both Harris and Ivey remarked that wearing masks was the best way to keep businesses open.
Ivey warned in regards to potentially shutting parts of the state’s economy again, “I don’t want to go there unless there are absolutely no other options available.”
“To have a life you need a livelihood,” she added.
“It is simply the right thing to do to wear a mask,” the governor told the public.
The governor’s office provided a set of answers to questions they anticipate the public asking about the mask mandate.
This story is breaking news and will be updated.