Published 11:39 am Wednesday, July 15, 2020

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Gov. Kay Ivey has issued a statewide mask order.

The order states a face covering must be worn in public when in close contact with other people. Specifically, it stipulates Alabamians must wear a mask when within 6 feet of a person from another household; in an indoor space open to the public; a vehicle operated by a transportation service such as Uber; or an outdoor public space where 10 or more people are gathered.

It goes into effect Thursday at 5 p.m. and will remain in effect until at least July 31. The order, which comes as Alabama has seen a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, supersedes any local regulations.

“We’re almost to the point where are hospital ICUs are overwhelmed, Ivey said, noting last week 87% of the state ICU beds were full. Folks, the numbers just do not lie,” Ivey said.

Ivey cautioned however, she thought enforcing the mandate would be a “difficult order.”

“I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate,” Ivey said.

The order carries a penalty of $500 or jail time but Ivey said the focus will be on education as opposed to punishment.

“We are not asking sheriffs or police offers to seek out people not wearing a face mask. Our goal is to inform people,” the governor said.

There are exceptions to the order. The largest category for exceptions is for “practical necessity” reasons, such as when children are 6 or younger; people with certain medical conditions or disabilities; eating and drinking; and medical and dental procedures. There are also categories for exceptions for exercise, communicating with an audience and certain necessary job functions. Another category for exceptions includes activities such as voting or religious worship, though wearing a facemask for those is “strongly encouraged,” the governor’s office said.

The order does not stipulate what kind of face-covering is required as long as it covers the nostrils and mouth. It does require businesses to take “reasonable steps” to encourage mask use by employees and customers.

Some FAQ’s about the mask order are below: