From The Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has issued a new Safer Apart Order, transitioning the state to the third phase of COVID-19 pandemic health orders.
Masks will no longer be required statewide after the mandate expires on Friday, April 9, 2021. The new order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday. The order will be in place until Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
Individuals are still encouraged to wear a mask or facial covering when in public and in close contact with others.
Ivey said Alabama is shifting to personal responsibility in the fight against COVID-19.
Alabama opened vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 and older two days ago, and state health officials said virus hospitalizations, percentage of positive tests and daily case numbers are hitting some of the lowest numbers in a year.
“We are finally rounding the corner. While we haven’t whipped this deadly disease just yet, it appears that, thank the good Lord we are in the home stretch. Please, please continue to use good common sense and we will see the end of COVID-19 soon,” Ivey said.
The Republican governor said she’ll keep wearing a mask around others after Friday. She also urged people to respect businesses that require customers to wear masks.
Birmingham and Montgomery will keep mask mandates in place beyond Friday.
Mayor Randall Woodfin said Birmingham’s mask ordinance is needed because COVID-19 continues to be a health threat and most people in the city and the state have not been fully vaccinated.
“We will continue to make decisions that we believe will save lives. They may not be popular,” Woodfin said Tuesday.
The governor’s new health order — illustrated in state materials with a stoplight showing the green light illuminated, reflecting improving conditions and fewest restrictions — keeps restrictions for quarantined individuals and limits on hospital and nursing home visitations, but has few other restrictions.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Alabama did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 438.86 new cases per day on March 22 to 304.86 new cases per day on April 5.
“We are not out of woods yet, but we do feel better about where we are now,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said.GKI-210407-Safer-Apart-Stoplight