MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - After being in effect for nearly 10 months, Alabama’s statewide mask mandate expired Friday, giving people the freedom to decide if they want to wear one.
Last July, Gov. Kay Ivey ordered the statewide mandate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but last month she announced she would not extend it after 5 p.m. April 9.
Alabama’s “safer apart” order also went into effect Friday, encouraging the public to social distance and wear a mask, but again, the decision is now up to you.
In downtown Prattville, some families were eager to get out and enjoy a Friday night mask-free.
“It should of happened months ago,” said Wetumpka resident Paul Anthony. “I’m glad it’s over.”
“Sometimes I’ll walk into a store and I won’t have my mask with me and I’ll have to go back out and get it because I forgot it and it’ll be nice not having to wear it anymore,” said Prattville shopper Caroline Aldridge.
Even though the vaccine continues to roll out - Alabama recently expanding eligibility to everyone 16 and older - others said they will continue to mask up.
“I feel like a lot of people aren’t taking it seriously so for me personally it’s more comfortable to keep my mask on for now,” said Prattville resident Olivia Enderby. “It makes me feel better.”
“You’ve just got to show respect to people, you know,” said one man. “You just don’t wanna just walk around (without one) until everybody gets comfortable not wearing it.”
Meanwhile, as some businesses are making face coverings optional moving forward , there are a lot that are still requiring people to mask up for service.
That is not, however, the case for Uncle Mick’s Cajun Market & Café in Prattville. Manager Lacy Gregg said neither her employees or customers will be required to wear one.
“We’re going to go completely back to normal,” Gregg said. “People want to see that, people are over this whole thing basically, so I’ve had customers come in and are thankful that we don’t make them wear a mask.”
“We eat out a lot, and we will go to the places that don’t require masks. And the ones that require masks we will chose not to eat there,” Anthony said.
As we shift to personally responsibility in fight against COVD-19, Ivey and state health officials are strongly encouraging people to wear masks in public.
“Please, please continue to practice good common sense and we will see the end to COVID-19 soon,” Ivey said at a press conference on April 6.
Even though the governor has lifted the mandatory mask order, the city of Montgomery is still requiring them. The Montgomery City Council and Mayor Steven Reed passed a new mandatory mask ordinance that went into effect Friday. It expires May 9.