By: Harrison Neville
With the recent announcement by Governor Ivey that the statewide mask mandate would be ending on April 9, many cities and organizations are now deciding what their own policies will be after the change.
Ivey said in a press conference, “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.”
Ivey is not the only governor to choose to end masking restrictions.
Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming all have lifted their mask mandates. They are joining the 11 other states that never implemented any mask mandates.
While Ivey has chosen to end the mandate, she does still encourage Alabama residents to wear masks in public after the mandate has ended.
“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 decision to continue the mask mandate another month was widely praised by health officials, but criticized by local politicians.
The Alabama Senate passed a resolution asking Ivey to end the mandate, and Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth criticized the mandate calling it “a Big Brother-style government mandate.”
While the statewide mandate is slated to end in April, individual cities can still determine their own policies, and as of March 21, the city of Birmingham has announced that it is likely to continue to hold the mask mandate after April 9.
The University of Montevallo has also said that it plans to keep its current COVID-19 policies after the state’s mask mandate has ended.
According to COVID task force leader, Dr. Tammi Dahle, “The University will continue to encourage mask wearing on and off campus until CDC guidance suggests otherwise. We will enforce mask wearing on campus per the protocols established by the Task Force.”
The exact nature of these policies, however, may change depending on how the situation looks when students return from spring break.
“The Task Force is continuing to monitor community and campus trends and will make decisions regarding comprehensive mask use after spring break,” said Dahle. “A spike in cases (or not) after spring break will help inform our decision. That is why we encourage all students to be responsible over the break since the results of spring break behavior may have a direct effect on our COVID decisions for the remainder of the semester.”
While the University has already announced plans to return to full in-person classes in the fall, it is not clear exactly what that will look like yet, and no exact timeline for when restrictions will be eased has been released.
According to Dahle, “There is no strict timeline,” and, “Decisions are based on CDC and public health guidance.”
Harrison Neville is the editor in chief for The Alabamian. He is a fourth-year English major whose hobbies include reading, hiking, cooking and writing. He has previously worked for The Alabamian as a managing editor, distribution manager, copy editor and SGA columnist.