MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Masks are making a comeback. Around Alabama, various cities and businesses are once again imposing mask mandates on employees and visitors, as COVID cases rise in the nation’s least-vaccinated state.
Last week, two of Alabama’s largest cities, Montgomery and Birmingham, each announced that masks again will be required in city-owned buildings. In an announcement, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the new mask ordinance was in response to rising COVID cases in the city and county, and said the mandate would extend to buildings, libraries and museums.
“This is for everyone, including the vaccinated,” he said.
In Montgomery, the new order extends to the county properties, as well. In addition, Montgomery County officials announced last week that all jury trials were canceled for the month of August.
Both Woodfin and Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed cite rising COVID cases — Alabama has the nation’s highest positivity rate currently — along with critically low vaccination rates prompted them to act.
New guidance from the CDC issued over the weekend, and showing the new Delta variant driving a massive uptick in cases nationwide, also recommended mask-wearing among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated when indoors.
UAB also announced that it would re-implement its mask order on campus, as did Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal.
Huntsville City Schools, Birmingham City Schools and Opelika City Schools each said it would also reinstate its mask mandate in classrooms. Baldwin County Schools will do so through Sept. 10.
State health officials last week recommended that children in Alabama’s public schools wear masks.
A number of businesses around the state, including most hospital systems, have also told employees that they will require masks inside buildings for the foreseeable future. In addition, two major corporations, Disney and Walmart, will also require masks, they each announced last week. Walmart has been forced to close two stores in Alabama, and a host of stores around the country, for “deep cleaning” following COVID outbreaks.
This story originally appeared in the Alabama Political Reporter.
IN OTHER NEWS: Mask or no mask? Local parents weigh in