City of Birmingham extends mask ordinance to May 24

Birmingham, McWane Science Center
Masks are required for age 8 up at McWane Science Center. Photo by Patience Itson for Bham Now

Hey Birmingham, leave that mask ON! In an 8-1 vote, the Birmingham City Council has voted today to extend the mask ordinance for the city of Birmingham until May 24. Details here.

On March 4, Governor Kay Ivey announced Alabama’s statewide mask mandate would expire on April 9. Along with it, several other COVID-19 restrictions will also be lifted including:

  • 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

So, why the extension in Birmingham?

Since Ivey’s announcement, members of the Birmingham City Council, along with Mayor Woodfin, made it clear they would vote on Tuesday, April 6 to extend the mask ordinance in Birmingham. Many local businesses have also been planning to continue the use of masks.

“Most of the reasons for extending the face covering ordinance are pretty clearly spelled out in the item we’re voting on, including the Code of Alabama statute that grants municipalities the authority to enact this type of measure. What folks won’t find there is that businesses are asking us to do this. They want to keep their employees and customers safe. Having a city ordinance makes for a level playing field for everyone.”

Darrell O’Quinn, District 5, Birmingham City Councilor

In an interview with Bham Now, Shirley Ferrill, a small business of Ferrill African Wear on 16th Street in Birmingham, noted how important the continued use of masks are to her business.

“As a business owner, I feel more secure and safe, and I think it will provide more security and safety for my customers as well.”

Shirley Ferrill, Owner, Ferrill African Wear

The Council Debate

During the Birmingham City Council meeting, each councilor made a statement about their position and feelings toward the extension of the mask order. The “lone opponent” to the measure was Birmingham City Council Member Hunter Williams of District 2 who said,

“We’ve had conversations with businesses and state health officials, they don’t feel like we need to enact this in Jefferson County or statewide. I think it puts an undue burden on business owners in the city of Birmingham as well as for outdoor events.”

City Council Member of District 9 John Hilliard passionately summed up his feelings to the council’s actions as a whole, stating that:

“Even as late as this morning, you can hear on the news that there are spikes where the virus is thriving. I’m excited about the fact that we’re doing whatever we can do to protect lives and we’re sending out a message to surrounding areas that we must protect our citizens at all costs.”

So for now, Birmingham, mask up until May 24 and check out some of the latest stories on COVID-19 vaccines around the city:

What do you think, Birmingham? Let us know on social at @BhamNow on Facebook and Instagram, or @Now_Bham on Twitter.