As Mask Mandate Expires, Ivey Announces ‘Safer Apart’ Order
Alabama's mask mandate is set to expire on Friday and Governor Kay Ivey affirmed Wednesday that she will not extend it, opting instead to implement a statewide 'Safer Apart' order be put in effect until May 5 at 5 p.m.
The state's first 'Stay At Home' order in April 2020, and now the amended 'Safer At Home' order in place since then will follow suit, expiring along with the statewide mask mandate.
"As of Monday, Alabama has seen the lowest average for new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the spring of 2020. Y'all this is definitely an indication that we're moving in the right direction," Ivey said in a Twitter thread. "Today, I'm announcing our state will then enter our Safer Apart order."
Under this new order, Alabamians (especially vulnerable persons over 65 years old or those with underlying health conditions) are encouraged to exercise personal responsibility to continue to slow the spread of the virus by:
- Remaining six feet apart from individuals in different households
- Wearing a mask at all times in which social distancing can't be achieved
- Staying home if sick
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitizer
- Disinfecting surfaces
- Refraining from touching one's face
Ivey also encouraged places of employment to practice social distancing measures and to individually promote the use of masks.
Senior citizen centers will still follow guidelines issued by the Alabama Department of Senior Services. Clients are encouraged to continue to receive needed meals via curbside pick-up or delivery.
Schools should follow the steps above, with the exception of maintaining only three feet of separation between children of different households between the ages of 6 and 18. Facilities serving children under the age of six do not need to take the steps to practice social distancing.
As for hospitals and long-term care facilities, patients may now be accompanied by two caregivers at a time, or receive up to two visitors at one time.
"Folks, we still have a public health order, but it's greatly slimmed down due to everyone doing their part to practice social distancing, wearing a mask & voluntarily getting a vaccine," Ivey said. "I continue to encourage you to do all of these things and make smart decisions."
Ivey also said that her team has created signs for business owners to use to urge patrons to still wear masks in restaurants. They can be found on the governor's website here.
As of Wednesday, almost 1.2 million Alabamians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning nearly 30% of all eligible people in the state have been at least partially vaccinated in a matter of four months. That number is expected to rise quickly since the State has opened eligibility up to anyone over the age of 16 Monday.
"We initially needed to limit the supply to the most vulnerable populations, but as more supply is sent to Alabama, we can now expand eligibility so just about anyone who wants one can have one," Ivey said.
The new Safer Apart order is set to remain in full force until May 5th. If this duration needs to be extended, Ivey said she will make an announcement to that effect prior to its expiration.
"Because of your personal responsibility and strong adherence to safety protocols, we're finally rounding that corner," Ivey concluded. "We aren't there yet, but we're in the home stretch."