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City Council makes changes to face covering ordinance

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By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday amended its mandatory face covering ordinance to change requirements for offices, job sites, children, and day care facilities.

For example, while the current ordinance provides an exemption of having to wear a face covering or mask for children under the age of two, the amended ordinance recommends that parents and guardians exercise judgment whether to require children 8 years “and younger” to consistently wear a covering or mask. Day care and other child care facilities will provide parents with information regarding their procedures for use of face coverings and masks.

The ordinance, designed to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, expires on May 15 at midnight.

Also, employees do not have to wear a face covering while working alone in separate office spaces or in non-public work places where there is adequate social distancing. However, people should be prepared to put on a face covering or mask when interacting with others where there are groups of 10 or more people or where social distancing cannot be maintained.

“I think the changes to the face covering ordinance make it more reasonable for the average person who is still out there functioning in society,” said Councilor Valerie Abbott. “I know some people don’t want to wear a face covering… but in some cases I’ve gotten emails where I think of how callous some people can really be.

“You’re not really protecting yourself as much as you’re protecting the most vulnerable people in our population,” Abbott said.

Other changes include work sites where a face covering may pose a risk including:

  • Working on ladders or at height
  • Wearing other respiratory protection
  • Heavy physical exertion
  • Operating heavy equipment
  • Working in an environment where face coverings or masks hinders communications

Exemptions identified in the original ordinance that remain in place are:

  • Exercise
  • People receiving medical or dental examinations
  • Physical and mental health and safety reasons

Both the ordinance and a set of frequently asked questions may be reviewed at www.birminghamal.gov/coronavirus.