(TNS) — Even if Gov. Kay Ivey drops a state health mandate requiring that masks be worn in public places in Alabama, major national retail chains are likely to keep their mask mandates in place and federal orders will apply to airports, public transportation and federal buildings.
In other words, keep a face mask handy if you plan to go out in public.
Ivey’s office released a statement Wednesday that the governor “prefers personal responsibility to government mandates.”
That may indicate she plans to follow the lead of Texas and Mississippi, where Republican governors have dropped state mask mandates. Ivey is expected to announce today whether to extend the order, which expires Friday. Without a state mask mandate, small businesses would have greater freedom to allow customers to go mask-free. But national retail chains operate in many states where masks are still required and are likely to keep their national policies until there is further consensus among federal and state agencies.
Federal buildings will remain under mask orders.
Among the major retail chains that have mask mandates are Walmart, Sam’s Club, Amazon, Whole Foods, Kroger, Costco, Walgreens, Home Depot, CVS, Target, Lowe’s, Apple Store, McDonald’s, Best Buy, Publix, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Aldi, Dollar General, Macy’s Dollar Tree, Verizon, Kohl’s, Starbucks, Ross, AT&T, Rite Aid, Nordstrom, Gap, PetSmart and Bed, Bath and Beyond.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring mask-wearing in airports, on commercial aircraft and other forms of public transportation. Federal agencies and airports require a mask to be worn over the nose and mouth at all times. Failure to comply may result in penalties under federal law, including removal and denial of re-entry.
On Jan. 29, the Centers for Disease Control issued an order requiring masks to be worn by travelers and operators on public transportation including airplanes, subways, buses and ride-shares.
“Conveyance operators must also require all persons on board to wear masks when boarding, disembarking and for the duration of travel,” the CDC said. “Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premise of a transportation hub.”
The federal mask policies of all U.S. airports will remain in effect at Alabama airports as part of the executive order signed by Biden in January. Travelers at airports are required to wear a mask at TSA airport screening checkpoints and throughout the commercial and public transportation systems. Passengers without a mask may be denied entry, boarding, or continued transport. Failure to comply with the mask requirement may result in civil penalties.
Most organizations are taking a wait-and-see approach. “While it’s likely the Governor will lift the mask mandate, the University is going to wait for the official word before we make an announcement,” said Lance Crawford, a spokesman for the University of South Alabama in Mobile. “I’m sure university leadership will confer with our health folks before deciding.”
At the University of Alabama in Birmingham, masks are required for the foreseeable future. The university will make an announcement if that changes, said Alicia Rohan, spokeswoman for UAB.
“Masks are required on campus indoors and outside,” she said.
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