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Alabama Unmasked: Yellowhammer State Mask Mandate set to Expire in April

By Christopher Trick, Staff Writer

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that the state mask mandate will be lifted in April on Thursday, March 4. 

“Let me be abundantly clear, after April 9, I will not keep the mask order in effect,” Ivey said in a press statement.

Alabama is just one of many states that have repealed mask mandates. Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota have also gotten rid of mask mandates in the last couple of months. 

In order to give private businesses ample time to establish their own policies regarding masks, Ivey decided to extend the repeal date, originally scheduled for March 8, to the beginning of April. 

Even though masks will no longer be mandatory, Ivey advised all citizens to still be cautious, and continue to wear face coverings in public. 

Alabama’s “Safer at Home” order will now stay in effect until April, allowing businesses and restaurants to operate at maximum capacity, but people must abide by social distancing guidelines, and sanitation standards are still in place. Senior citizens can still participate in outside activities, and hospitals and nursing homes are permitted to let in an additional visitor. 

Some students expressed support for Alabama’s decision to repeal the mask mandate. 

“It’s about time states start standing up to this tyranny,” freshman political science major Lewis Williams said. “I don’t want to be told to wear a muzzle all the time. And what’s the difference in a restaurant if I have to wear it standing up but take it off sitting down? Ridiculous.”

Sophomore history major Evelyn Bateman agreed with Williams.

“I wore a mask all the time, washed my hands, sanitized everything multiple times, and I still got COVID,” she said. “You’re really only supposed to wear the mask if you have the illness. I see people reusing masks all the time, so it defeats the purpose.” 

Other students and faculty members expressed concern with the decision to lift mask mandates. 

“Just another attempt by Trump supporters to spread the nonsense conspiracy theory that masks don’t work and that COVID-19 is a hoax,” junior English major Partick Halberstan said. “This governor is putting the citizens of Alabama at great risk by repealing the state’s mask mandate. I hope that doesn’t happen here.” 

“All [of] the states that are doing drastic rollbacks on a mask mandate are taking real risks, and, given the history of this virus, it seems more likely that there will be surges in cases in a few weeks in each of these states,” Dr. Barbara Fowles, professor of communications and film, said.  “I doubt if Alabama, in particular, has the medical resources to cope with a big wave of illness. These are political decisions which do not belong in a medical context.”

“I don’t know why people are so opposed to masks,” senior chemistry major Warner Cornwall said. “It boggles my mind that people are so opposed to taking measures that are supposed to keep them safe. Screaming ‘tyranny’ at the top of your lungs won’t make this pandemic disappear.” 

Ivey said that Alabama has experienced a 77 percent drop in the weekly average number of new patients admitted to hospitals daily since reaching a peak in January. The governor also said that the extended order will allow citizens to safely receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

According to data from the Center for Disease Control, over 670,000 Alabama residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, almost 14 percent of the total population.

President Joe Biden, however, criticized the state’s move, calling it “a big mistake” and a form of “Neanderthal thinking” in a public statement.

Despite the conflicting opinions, Ivey has stood firm in her decision to pull back on the state’s mask mandate. 

“While I’m convinced a mask mandate has been the right thing to do, I also respect those who object and believe this was a step too far in government overreach,” Ivey said.

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