Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announces the extension of a state order requiring face masks in public during a news conference in Montgomery, Ala, July 29, 2020.
Kim Chandler | AP
Alabama plans to lift a statewide order requiring to wear masks in public on April 9, even as Gov. Kay Ivey extends the state’s health emergency proclamation for Covid-19 by 60 days.
“Let me be abundantly clear, after April 9, I will not keep the mask order in effect,” Ivey said Thursday.
Ivey extended the mask order and other health measures that were set to expire March 8 to give businesses enough time to institute their own policies, she announced at a press conference.
The state’s extended “Safer at Home’ order which now runs through May 7 will allow restaurants and bars to operate without party size limits, though the tables must adhere to additional sanitation rules and remain 6 feet apart. According to the order, senior citizen centers will also be allowed to resume activities outside and hospital and nursing homes can welcome an additional visitor at a time.
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. President Joe Biden and top U.S. health officials have criticized the decision, however, calling it a “big mistake.”
“We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. … The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday.