As of 5:00 p.m. Thursday, July 16, 2020 face coverings are required in the state of Alabama. Gov. Kay Ivey announced the rule on Wednesday, a day after the state reported a pandemic-high of 40 deaths in a single day.
The new rule applies to anyone older than 6 years old, in public, and within 6 feet of someone who's not a relative. There are exceptions, including for people who have certain medical conditions, are exercising, or performing certain types of jobs.
Just an hour before the mandate took affect, FOX10 News Anchor Lenise Ligon spoke with Gov. Ivey about schools, that mask order, and whether she thinks the mandate will further hurt the struggling economy.
Lenise Ligon, FOX 10 News Anchor:
How are you staying safe and healthy during this pandemic?
Kay Ivey, Alabama Governor:
The numbers continue to go in the wrong direction so it's just imperative that we all follow the mandate that was put in place yesterday that by five o'clock this afternoon. Everybody needs to be wearing a face mask. It is the most reliable tool according to the CDC that we have a toolbox to stop the spread of the virus. And that's exactly what we need to do. we've asked folks you know for months and months and weeks and weeks and encouraged them to wear a face mask and a lot of people are, but not enough... we need everybody wearing a face mask... so that is why we have the mandate that begins at 5 o'clock today.
Ligon: And health wise Is that what you're doing to stay healthy?
Ivey: Yes and staying you know, away from groups of people that's the reason we're zooming instead of driving and coming to see y'all and having group meetings, we do a lot of conference calls and a lot of zoom meetings.
Ligon: Now about two weeks ago you said that a statewide mask mandate, just wouldn't be possible because it could not be enforced. How do you think is going to be enforced now?
Ivey: Well my hope is that law enforcement will use this as an opportunity to inform and educate the people in their respective communities. Like in Spanish Fort... the police chief... chief Barker... Barber is encouraging his people. Telling them about the issue and why everybody needs to have a mask and if they don't have one. He prepared to give them one.
So it's just really essential that people recognize the gravity of this situation and start practicing personal responsibility. Everybody can have a hand in making this a successful operation and turn our numbers around and to keep our people safe and healthy.
Ligon: As you know, the shutdown caused a lot of economic hardship for businesses, the beach community in our viewing area especially hit hard. Do you think that this mask mandate is going to make economic times for people, worse?
Ivey: The idea is that if more people wore masks... we'd have have greater numbers going in a positive direction, rather than in the negative direction and we need to get more people wearing masks to be effective as we fight this virus.
Ligon: What do you say to teachers who are concerned about going back to schools and do you see, Alabama schools being delayed?
Ivey: We are going to keep an eye on all the numbers but this order will be in effect until July 31. So school doesn't start until sometime in August, so we'll be watching that closely. My hope is that we can make enough difference by wearing masks in the next two weeks to see a change in the numbers in between...because we need to have children be in school in physical buildings. That's the goal.
Ligon: Some school systems are saying that they won't force children to wear a mask, others say that they will. I have to go back to how are you going to make sure that this mandate is being followed?
Ivey: Well this is an up to an individual choice of course but we want to encourage everybody to make the difference everybody can have a hand in the success of this operation to wear a mask to reduce the number of people who are affected by this virus. It's just something that must be done and we just plead with out people to do the responsible thing. Practice individual responsibility, wear the mask, wash your hands frequently and social distance, and wearing the mask is the most important thing you can do.
Ligon: Do you think that the numbers would be going in a different way had this mandate been given sooner?
Ivey: We encouraged people for weeks and weeks Lenise to wear the mask. Some have, but so many people have not. So encouragement has not been strong enough so we hope that this mandate will get people's attention and assure them that we are deadly serious about this because we are losing entirely too many lives and there are too many hospitalizations to this virus.
Ligon: School systems are a big topic for us. What have you heard from Dr. Mackey or the athletic system, about how we can continue with music and athletics during this pandemic?
Ivey: Everybody's trying to get back to normal, normal school activities will be best to check with those respective people that you mentioned, and get the latest details on what the plans are. But my hope is that we can get everybody back on some kind of regular school activity schedule as well as going back to school for academic reasons.
Ligon: Anything else you'd like to add...?
Ivey: Wear that mask!
Ligon: Thank you very much governor Kay Ivey speaking. Thank you.