Gov. Ivey’s press conference is available in the player above.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has announced the state’s mask mandate will continue through April 9 but then end permanently.
Gov. Ivey says this is to allow businesses ample time to implement policies to ensure the safety of employees and guests.
“We need to get past Easter and hopefully allow more Alabamians to get their first shot before we take a step some other states have taken to remove the mask order altogether and lift other restrictions. Folks, we are not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer,” Gov. Ivey said.
After Texas and Mississippi announced the end to their mask ordinances earlier this week, many believed Alabama would follow in their footsteps.
The governor called masks “one of our greatest tools” in preventing the virus’ spread but emphasized that she will not extend the mask order further, saying it will become a matter of personal 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.
The governor made the announcement to extend the mandate in a press conference Thursday. She was joined by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
Dr. Harris said vaccine supplies are increasing and if the state can get a cumulative total of 1.75 million shots delivered by early April, that would be a “terrific place to be.”
The renewed ordinance will now also remove the restaurant sitting limit of eight guests. However, tables still need to be 6 feet apart or have a partition. Senior living facilities will now be allowed to have outdoor programs and hospitals will raise the maximum number of caregivers and family members able to visit patients from one to two.
The governor also announced that summer camps can take place in Alabama.
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth urged Gov. Ivey to end the ordinance in a letter Wednesday, saying the lowering of hospitalizations and the vaccine rollout warrant the state to reopen fully. Alabama has seen its seven-day average of daily cases has dropped from 3,000 in early January to below 1,000 and hospitalizations are at their lowest point since summer.
Dr. Harris said the state will see around 100,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week as well as a one-time shipment of 40,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He says they don’t expect anymore J&J vaccines until April.
The mask ordinance has been in effect since July and will now expire on April 9.