Ivey extends mask mandate through mid-December, relaxes occupancy rules
Montgomery, Ala.—Governor Kay Ivey has extended Alabama’s mask mandate. Originally set to expire this Sunday, the mandate will now expire Friday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m.
Ivey also relaxed some of the capacity restrictions placed on businesses. Gyms, retailers, and entertainment venues are allowed to return to normal operations and occupancy if social distancing is implemented.
The updated order allows an exception to social distancing rules for “close contact service providers” such as salons, barber shops, and spas if masks are worn and partitions or barriers are in use based on CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines.
New guidelines were also released for restaurant buffets and self service food stations which will go in effect Nov. 8.
Amended order and updated restaurant guidelines
“Our state, nation, and the world is still grappling with how to keep people safe,” Ivey said. “I acknowledge sooner rather than later it will be up to each of us to do the right thing regardless if the government is mandating it or not.”
Ivey has faced criticism, including from Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, about government overreach in mandating masks be warn. Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, have both stressed the impending flu season and cold weather as a large reason to continue with the mask mandate. Harris noted that Alabama’s number of new COVID cases and deaths is lower than several states, but is still rising compared to September and early October. He said he expects the vaccine to be “safe and effective” and hopes Alabamians will get the vaccine in a timely fashion.
Discussing the upcoming holiday season, Harris said that “this is the time for people to be careful on who they gather with…and do so safely.”
The Associated Press reported that the virus death count has surpassed 3,000 in the state since the pandemic began in late March. Over 1000 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized, which is up 45 percent since late September. Hospital and doctor groups supported extending the mask order as cases in the US are rapidly increasing with over 100,000 new cases reported in a single day for the first time since the pandemic began.