By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham will likely vote April 6 to keep its mask requirement even after the state mandate expires on April 9, according to city leaders.
City Council President William Parker said he believes the ordinance will be extended because the pandemic is far from over.
“I think by listening to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci [the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist] and other experts on the national, state and county level that we are just not there yet,” Parker said in an interview Tuesday at City Hall. “I think the analogy is ‘you can’t spike the ball on the five-yard line.’”
He added, “We will probably go in 30 or 45 day increments and I feel very confident that we will take aggressive action in passing the ordinance.”
While Governor Kay Ivey said the statewide mask mandate will expire April 9 many businesses have policies to follow state and local rules pertaining to COVID safety, so even if the mandate ends statewide, expect many Birmingham businesses to still require one.
The city and state have made a lot of progress reducing the numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations through wearing face coverings, testing, washing hands and social distancing and now with vaccinations, Parker said. “I think it is important we continue to do the things that we have been doing since last year so we can truly, truly defeat this COVID-19 pandemic.”
During a recent call with the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists, Mayor Randall Woodfin said he also can see an extension of the mask mandate. “We have a draft ordinance already on standby,” he said.
Birmingham was one of the first municipalities to issue a face covering ordinance after the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency last March.
The city’s ordinance required face coverings to be worn at all times by anyone over the age of two who could medically tolerate doing so when in public places within the City of Birmingham. The face coverings were not required in an individual’s home or personal vehicle.