MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Governor Kay Ivey has announced a statewide mandatory masking order starting on July 16 at 5:00 p.m. This will be in place until at least the end of the month.
This comes after daily increases in statewide COVID-19 numbers almost every day for the last two weeks.
State Health Officer Scott Harris said that on July 15, there were over 2,100 new cases, and the Alabama Department of Public Health expects to add 40-45 deaths. Even though there is more testing, the percentage of positive cases continue to increase, meaning that the increase of cases is not just due to increased testing, it's due to increased disease spread.
He also spoke about the strain on the health care system, with ICU beds rapidly filling statewide with COVID-19 patients. About 30% of the state's hospitals have limited or no ICU availability.
Harris addressed the possibility of the economy would have to be closed down again, and said that if everyone does what they are supposed to, this shouldn't be necessary.
The state is providing resources for businesses to post about the mask mandate.
There are exceptions, including:
- Any person six years of age or younger
- Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents him or her from wearing a facial covering
- Any person while consuming food or drink, or seated at a restaurant to eat or drink
- Any person who is obtaining a service (for example, a medical or dental procedure) that requires removal of the facial covering in order to perform the service
- Any person who is required to remove the facial covering to confirm his or her identity, such as for security or screening purposes.
- Any person who is actively engaged in exercise in a gym or other athletic facility if he or she maintains six feet of separation from persons of another household
- Any person who is directly participating in athletic activities in compliance with paragraph 11 of this order
- Any person who is in a swimming pool, lake, water attraction, or similar body of water, though wearing a face covering or social distancing is strongly encouraged if safe and practicable.
- Any person who is seeking to communicate with another person where the ability to see the person’s mouth is essential for communication (such as when the other person has a hearing impairment)
- Any person speaking for broadcast or to an audience if the person maintains six feet of separation from persons from another household.
Exceptions are also in place for constitutionally-protected activities and certain work situations, including
- Any person who is voting, though wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged
- Any person who cannot wear a facial covering because he or she is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, though wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.
- Any first responder (including law enforcement officers, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel) if necessary to perform a public-safety function
- Any person performing a job function if wearing a face covering is inconsistent with industry safety standards or a business’s established safety protocols.
The order also states that:
Effective immediately, any person who has tested positive for COVID-19—other than institutionalized persons—shall be quarantined to their place of residence for a period of 14 days, or other period of time as directed by the State Health Officer, or his designee, after receiving positive test results. Any person quarantined pursuant to this provision shall not leave their place of residence for any reason other than to seek necessary medical treatment. Any person requiring assistance while under quarantine may contact Alabama Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, http://alvoad.communityos.org/cms. While under quarantine, the person shall take precautions as directed by his or her health care provider or the Alabama Department of Public Health to prevent the spread of the disease to others.
The current "Safer at Home" order remains in place until at least the end of the month.
Ivey said that she knows it will be difficult to enforce, but that she expects people to be responsible and, "do the right thing." She said there is a penalty, up to 500 and/or jail time, but the goal is not to arrest people or have law enforcement looking for people not wearing masks.
She also reminded people that they need to continue to social distance and practice good hygiene.
When questioned about the reopening of schools, Ivey said she hopes that can occur, but it will depend on the numbers.
The main message: wearing masks is good for your and your community.
Scroll down to see Governor Ivey's announcement.
Mask order FAQs: