Gov. Kay Ivey extended a statewide face mask order through Nov. 8. The order requires face masks to be worn in public to try to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Ivey made the announcement at a press conference Wednesday. The rule was set to expire Friday, but the new deadline extends it past Election Day and much of the remaining high school and college football seasons.
The governor said she’s heard from many residents who are eager for the mask order to be lifted. Ivey said she wants to do that sooner rather than later.
“But the reason we are extending this mask order up until after the national election, which is November 3, is because it’s important to have a safe environment for our poll workers, poll watchers and those of us who would like to vote in person,” she said.
The Alabama Hospital Association and a doctor’s group earlier this week urged the governor to keep the mask order in place.
“The one thing that seems to have changed in the course of the pandemic is when the mask order was implemented,” said Dr. Don Williamson, head of the state hospital association. His group supports keeping the requirement through at least the end of the year.
Ivey said the state has made progress over the last two weeks in the fight against COVID-19.
“Thankfully, we did not have a surge in COVID-19, as was predicted, after the Labor Day weekend,”she said, “but my friends, this isn’t just luck or coincidence.”
Ivey attributed the decrease in hospitalizations and new daily cases to the statewide mask order she implemented in July.
Ivey also announced changes affecting residents in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, and people who are hospitalized. The new rule allows people to be accompanied by one caregiver or visitor “unless there are compelling reasons to limit access.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.