Bucking GOP trend, Alabama governor extends mask order
Breaking from other Southern GOP governors, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended her state’s mask order for an additional month Thursday but said the need will end permanently in April.
“We got to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to urge their first shot before we take a step another states have taken to get rid of the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we aren’t there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer,” Ivey said at a press conference .
The governor said masks are “one of our greatest tools” in preventing the virus’ spread but emphasized that she is going to not extend the mask order further, saying it’ll become a matter of private responsibility when the mandate ends.
“Even when we lift the mask order, I will continue to wear my mask while I’m around others and strongly urge my fellow citizens to use common sense and do the same,” Ivey said.
“This is very good news. This gives us a month to vaccinate more people and to urge a far better handle on the role of the united kingdom variant,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the previous state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association.
Dr. Ellen Eaton, who focuses on infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said schools and organizations serving people who’ve yet to receive a vaccine will got to “carefully consider the way to proceed” once the order ends.
“For many, continuing masking are going to be necessary, like in schools and colleges. But leadership within the se spaces needs time to think through the health and policy implications of recommending masks in the absence of a mandate,” she said.
In extending the order for five weeks, Ivey followed the recommendations of medical officials but also let people know there’ll be a firm end date.
Some social media users were sharing the phonephone number to the governor’s office and asking callers to voice opposition to the rule. And the Alabama Senate approved a resolution Wednesday evening urging Ivey to finish the mask mandate.
Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth also asked Ivey to finish the mask requirement, which he has opposed right along , saying individuals can make decisions for themselves and follow safety rules until vaccinations and immunity levels are sufficient.
“But we will do all of those things without an enormous Brother-style government mandate looming over us,” Ainsworth said during a statement.
The governor did lift some restrictions on what percentage people can sit as a restaurant table, but tables are still required to be 6 feet (2 meters) apart or have a partition. The order also allowed senior citizens to resume some activities and hospitals to increase the quantity of tourists patients can have from one to 2.
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