Gov. Ivey extends mask ordinance to April 9, eases restrictions + announces 1M Alabamians vaccinated

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The statewide mask ordinance is extended until April 9. Photo via Unsplash

Governor Kay Ivey extended the statewide mask mandate to Friday, April 9, but announced it will not be extended further. She also dropped COVID-19 restrictions on nursing homes, summer camps and restaurants.

“Folks we’re not there yet, but goodness knows we’re getting closer.”

The Alabama state mask mandate was announced in July, 2020. Photo via Governor Kay Ivey on Flickr

As of Tuesday, March 2, COVID-19 cases dropped from 82% compared to the high reached on January 10. In more encouraging news, the 7-day average of COVID-19 hospitalization cases dropped to 686, a 77% decrease from the high reached on January 11.

The news is positive, but Governor Ivey and Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris both emphasized we can’t let our guard down. Governor Ivey asked Alabamians to get past Easter and the statewide mask mandate will no longer be in place.

After the mandate is dropped on April 9

Governor Ivey says even once the mask order is no longer in effect, she will continue to wear her mask. Businesses also have five weeks from today, Thursday, March 4, to get ready to pose their own policies on whether they will require masks or not.

“The bottom line is we have kept the mask mandate in place for more than a generous period of time because it has helped. And as a result of the people of our state doing their part, we have seen dramatic results and real progress being made.”

Governor Kay Ivey

Restrictions eased on businesses, nursing homes + summer camps

The new, modified order will include several changes that’ll ease up on some current restrictions, while keeping the mask order in place for another 5 weeks, until April 9.

Several COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in the new order:

  • Outdoor programs now allowed at senior centers, following new safety guidelines
  • Overnight summer camps will be able to resume normal operations this year
  • No restrictions on seating limits at restaurants
  • The maximum number of visitors during their stay at a hospital or nursing home is lifted from one to two people

With the new freedom, Governor Ivey still encourages Alabamians to practice personal responsibility.

Dr. Harris added that while they want people to be reunited with their families and loved ones, the nursing homes, in particular, are under federal regulations. They may have restrictions imposed on them regarding visitations.

Alabama vaccinates over 1M residents

The first COVID vaccines arriving at UAB
The first COVID vaccines arriving at UAB on December 15, 2020. Photo via UAB

As of yesterday, March 3, 2021, healthcare providers vaccinated 1M+ Alabama residents. The state is continuing to work around the clock to get that number even higher.

About 40,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the first single-shot vaccine, are shipping this week. Providers are expected to start administering it within the next couple of days.

Dr. Harris also announced Alabama’s plans to vaccinate those communities most at-risk for dying from COVID-19 using the Social Vulnerability Index tool.

In terms of variants, the UK variant of COVID-19 has been identified in the state. Dr. Harris says his team is keeping an eye on it and working to stay ahead of any other variants and their effects on the vaccine.

See our latest stories on vaccinations for state residents:

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Irene Richardson
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