Alabama Governor Kay Ivey Says She Will Lift COVID-19 Mask Mandate
On Thursday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey revealed in a news conference that residents of the Yellowhammer State will no longer be required to wear a face mask after April 9.
Ivey, 76, extended the mask order that was initially set to expire on March 8, and urged people to continue wearing face coverings even though the state will no longer require them to be worn next month.
She said that it will be up to businesses to decide on their own mask policies following the April date, as well as a matter of "personal responsibility" for individuals on whether or not to continue with their own mask-wearing.
The news out of Alabama comes shortly after Texas and Mississippi announced that they would each be abandoning their mask mandates and allowing businesses to fully reopen earlier this week.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday afternoon on Twitter that his state would be opening, tweeting, "I just announced Texas is OPEN 100%. EVERYTHING. I also ended the statewide mask mandate."
The announcement makes Texas the largest U.S. state to commit to fully reopening. Most Texans have not received a COVID-19 vaccination yet.
That same day, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced, "Starting tomorrow, we are lifting all of our county mask mandates and businesses will be able to operate at full capacity without any state-imposed rules. Our hospitalizations and case numbers have plummeted, and the vaccine is being rapidly distributed. It is time!"
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On Wednesday, President Joe Biden criticized the governors of Texas and Mississippi after they made their respective announcements.
Biden, 78, called the decisions by the two Republican governors "Neanderthal thinking" with daily cases still high and faster-spreading virus variants circulating.
"I think it's a big mistake," Biden said during a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers. "Look, I hope everybody's realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we're able to get vaccines in people's arms."
"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it. It still matters," he continued.
Biden urged citizens of both states to continue following safety guidelines, regardless of what their governors said. "It's critical — critical, critical, critical — that they follow the science: Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distanced," Biden said. "And I know you all know that. I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it."