On March 4, Governor Kay Ivey extended the state's mask mandate for the final time, which now ends on April 9 at 5 p.m. This will change the rules on how businesses in Alabama are able to operate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants will be able to host larger parties as long as social distancing is enforced, and businesses will be able to decide for themselves whether or not they will require customers to wear masks while shopping.
Since July, the mask mandate in Alabama has been mandatory except for very specific cases. The mandate was originally supposed to end on July 31, 2020. However, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Alabama, it was extended multiple times.
Now, Governor Ivey has said that the mandate will end on April 9, and businesses and individuals will have to make their own decisions on whether or not they want to continue wearing masks.
“It will become a matter of personal responsibility and not government mandate.” Gov. Ivey said in a press conference on March 4. Gov. Ivey also strongly encourages citizens of Alabama to use “common sense” in regards to wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines.
Local businesses will be free to enforce masks and social distancing however they see fit. However, national retail chains will still adhere to the mask mandate imposed by their corporations. So, customers can still expect to be asked to wear a mask when shopping at grocery stores like Kroger or Walmart.
Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers in downtown Auburn will still require employees to wear masks while working, but customers will be able to decide for themselves whether or not they would like to wear them inside.
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The Locker Room, a men’s clothing store in downtown Auburn will not be requiring customers to wear a mask while shopping, letting the customer decide for themselves whether or not they would like to wear a mask.
Some store representatives have been more strict than others when enforcing masks during the mask mandate. As some businesses decide against continuing a mask requirement, employees may breathe a sigh of relief at the thought of enforcing the rules.
COVID-19 cases in Lee County have been steadily declining since mid-January, and with the vaccine being administered in various locations across Auburn and Opelika, it seems that businesses are ready to return to some sense of normalcy. While the pandemic may not be over, Auburn businesses are ready to let the individual customer decide for themselves how they wish to proceed in this stage of the pandemic.
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