Gov. Ivey extends mask order until Dec. 11, lifts occupancy restrictions

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

MONGTOMERY – Meeting at the capital in Montgomery to discuss COVID-19 for the first time in a month, Alabama Gov. Ivey gave an update on the state’s battle against the virus, including an extension of the mask mandate.

Set to expire on Sunday, Nov. 8, Ivey decided to extend the state’s mask order until Friday, Dec. 11, but she also made the decision to lift occupancy restrictions in restaurants and businesses.

“You cannot have a life without livelihood,” Ivey said. “So in order to alleviate burden placed on retail, small businesses and restaurants, we’ll be rolling back restrictions placed on the occupancy rate. Simply put, this should be welcome news as we get ready for the upcoming holiday season, which is often the bread and butter for retail, and especially for our locally owned small businesses.”

Ivey said the businesses can resume normal operations in terms of number of patrons who will be allowed inside the business, but they must be wearing a mask and complying with other sanitation guidelines and social distancing.

She added that despite flu season nearing, which could be deadly, as long as people follow guidelines, it will be safe.

We’re entering the cold and flu season, and you add COVID-19 to that mix, it can present a deadly combination,” she said. “If you mask up and social distance, you can increase occupancy in your business.”

She also added that close-contact businesses like nail salons, hair salons, spas and others can resume normal occupancy as well.

The mask mandate will continue into December to help those going to restaurants and retail stores stay safe, especially with it being a busy shopping season as Black Friday and Christmas approach.

“When Dr. Harris and I spoke last to the people back on Sept. 30, I tried to be clear then that my hopes and plan were that we’d be in a position to let our mask order expire by this time,” Ivey said. “I know you can’t go on forever with a government mandate, however, I’m willing to keep the mask order in place, while acknowledging that sooner rather than later it’s going to be up to each of us to do the right thing, regardless of whether the government is mandating it or not.”

The press conference was held with 199,158 confirmed cases of the virus since the onset back in March. There have also been 3,026 deaths in that span with 84,471 recoveries and 21,027 hospitalizations.

In Shelby County, there have now been 8,017 cases with 70 total deaths. In the last 14 days, there have been 809 new cases. There have been two days with 73 cases, but no more during the last two weeks.