Ivey: Statewide Mask Mandate in Effect Until July 31
Gov. Kay Ivey announced today that Alabama is now under a statewide mask mandate, effective until July 31.
This comes as an addition to her "Safer at Home" order, which seeks to protect Alabama's communities through rigorous hygiene and social distancing policies. Her decision for the mandate was based on the rising cases of COVID-19 across the state.
"Folks, the numbers just do not lie," Ivey said in a press conference.
She stressed that people "should not have to be ordered to do what is in [their] best interest," and that she prefers personal responsibility over government mandates. But, until positive case and death trends start declining instead of increasing, she wants to exhaust all options for preventative measures before any quarantines or lockdowns are considered.
"The mask mandate is the first step in reversing course," Ivey said. "I don't want to go [to a lockdown] unless there's absolutely no other options available. We've said during this pandemic that to have a life, you need a livelihood. You cannot work if you are not healthy."
Currently, any other Safer at Home guidelines regarding gatherings and closures will not change. Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama's State Health Officer, spoke alongside Ivey to offer context and details regarding the new mandate. He said that masks are to be worn in these circumstances:
- When someone is in public
- When someone is in close contact with another person who is not a part of their household
- In outdoor spaces with many people
- In indoor spaces that are open to the public
The above list is not exhaustive, and people should make their most sound judgment when deciding where else masks are appropriate.
"Alabama is not headed in the right direction," Harris said. "Face coverings or masks will help prevent disease transmission. ... We do have the ability to keep person-to-person spread from occurring. This is a health order that protects the people around you."
Ivey said she understands that this will be a difficult mandate to enforce. While defying the mandate can earn an offender a $500 and/or jail time, Ivey does not want police officers to seek out people without masks. She stressed that placing people in jail "is not the goal." But, she urged Alabamians to take the mandate seriously and follow it, with the goal of reopening businesses, schools (and football stadiums) sooner rather than later.
Sen. Doug Jones (D-Alabama), a member of the Senate Health Committee, praised Ivey for her decision to mandate masks statewide. He issues a press release shortly after her live conference ended.
"Governor Ivey did the right thing today by enacting a statewide mask policy. Unlike her counterparts in other Deep South states, Governor Ivey is clearly following the advice of health care professionals," Jones said in the press release. "Many Alabama communities in COVID-19 hotspots have already taken this step, which will help limit the spread of this virus and reduce the strain on our struggling hospitals and health care workers, and it just makes sense to do it on a statewide basis."
Businesses can find graphics and promotional materials at governor.alabama.gov to decorate their places of work with state-approved information and resources.
"We're going to need everyone's help to slow the spread and turn these trends in a different direction," Ivey said. "We are asking everyone to do a better job to practice social distancing, personal hygiene, and now, wear face masks."
Until medical experts can find a vaccine or a cure, Ivey said her administration will keep monitoring the numbers and adjusting the Safer at Home order as things change. She emphasized that it is up to the people of Alabama to stop the spread and do their part to help push the state toward normalcy.
"Things are evolving very fast every day and we're making the best decisions we can with the information we have," she said. "We may not know when, but we will get through this."