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Face masks, coverings to be required statewide Thursday

Face masks or coverings will soon be required in public places statewide. Gov. Kay Ivey today issued her fourteenth supplemental emergency that includes a mask requirement. Individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people, specifically closer than 6 feet from someone of another household, as described in the order. This amended order will go into effect Thursday at 5 p.m. and extends until July 31 at 5 p.m.

The order requires a face covering that covers the nostrils and mouth when people are within 6 feet of a person from another household in the following places:

• an indoor space open to the general public;

• a vehicle operated by a transportation service; and

• an outdoor space where 10 or more people are gathered.

There are several exemptions to the newest requirement, according to the order. Categorized as “practical (necessities),” the largest group of exemptions cover people or situations where mask use is incompatible with the realities of life —for example, children six or younger, people with certain medical conditions or disabilities, eating and drinking, and medical and dental procedures. There are also categories of exceptions for exercise, for communicating with an audience and for certain essential job functions. Activities like voting and religious worship are also exempt — but while not mandated, the governor’s office said masks are still strongly encouraged in those situations.

Ivey said the order is a difficult one that will be hard to enforce, adding “I always prefer personal responsibility over a government mandate.

“And yet I also know, with all my heart, that the numbers and data over the past few weeks are definitely trending in the wrong direction,” she added.