Birmingham requires face covering to fight COVID-19 while Alabama gradually opens up

Farmers at the Market at Pepper Place, April 25, 2020. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Today, the city of Birmingham passed an ordinance to require the wearing of a face covering in public during the COVID-19 health emergency.  Meanwhile, Governor Kay Ivey released a new stay at home order that gradually reopens retail businesses and the state’s beaches.

Birmingham Ordinance

Proposed by Mayor Randall Woodfin and unanimously supported by the City Council, under the new ordinance Birmingham residents will be required to cover their nose and mouth to limit the spread of coronavirus. Medical grade masks are not required and the coverings may include, but not be limited to items such as scarves or bandanas. The ordinance will go into effect on Friday, May 1, 2020

Face coverings are to be worn at all times by people over the age of two and who can medically tolerate doing so when in public places within the City of Birmingham.

Birmingham, face masks
Facemask and photo by Celeste Gains Ward

Residents are NOT required to wear face coverings at an individual’s home or personal vehicle.

Other exceptions to the ordinance listed in the Birmingham news release include:

  • Face coverings are not required to be worn over the face during individual outdoor exercise, for example, walking or jogging, but must be worn when encountering and interacting with groups of other people in a park or other public place.
  • Children two years of age and under, as face coverings or masks may pose a risk of choking, strangulation or suffocation to infants and young toddlers. Carriers and strollers with coverings that allow the child to breathe comfortably are alternatives for infants and young toddlers. Parents and guardians shall be responsible for ensuring proper masking of children over the age of two years when in public but must ensure that the face covering does not pose a choking hazard for children and can be safely worn without obstructing a child’s ability to breathe.  Parents and guardians shall exercise judgment and avoid bringing children not wearing masks into public places, especially where contact with vulnerable individuals is expected.
Here are our masks! Made by my wife Kathleen Rose-Byington. Photo courtesy of Pat Byington (in the photo) for Bham Now
  • Patients in examination rooms of medical or dental offices or clinics or hospitals where there is a necessity to examine or treat the mouth or nasal area, subject to the direction of the medical or dental professionals in charge of the office, clinic or hospital.
  • When wearing a face covering poses a greater mental or physical health, safety or security risk such as anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

Business owners, managers and supervisors will be expected to ensure employees and visitors observe the requirement in their place of business. Businesses will not be required to provide face coverings for employees.

Failure to comply with the ordinance is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in the municipal jail.

How do I make a cloth face covering?

The attached link to the CDC provides information on creating different types of cloth face coverings from items commonly found around the house.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.

Bham Now also published a guide earlier in April on places masks can be acquired.

Governor Gradually Opens State

Birmingham, Alabama, Kay Ivey
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. Photo via the Office of the Governor, State of Alabama.

In other news, Governor Kay Ivey announced that she is gradually lifting some of the statewide stay at home orders.  Some of the changes which begin on April 30, 5:00pm include:

  • All retail  business is open at 50% occupancy
  • Beaches are open
  • Medical procedures are allowed unless prohibited by the State Health Officer

Remaining the same:

Staff at Rojo in Birmingham ready to use their new masks. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now
  • Restaurants, bars and breweries are limited to takeout and delivery
  • Nonwork gatherings of 10 persons or more are prohibited
  • Athletic facilities and activities are closed
  • Close contact businesses such as hair salons are closed

The state released the following graph (here is a link to it) to explain the new order.

Screenshots of graph from Governor Kay Ivey’s Twitter feed

Stay Safe Birmingham

Stay tuned for future updates. We are all in this together. Support our local businesses by visiting Bham Now’s Local Business (477 businesses) and Nonprofit (97 nonprofit groups) directories.


  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.