Area police gearing up to help enforce Madison County mask order

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – While Alabama State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris said he has not heard whether Governor Ivey is considering a state wide mask order, the Madison County wide mask order is in full effect.

Harris said due to complicated legal reasons, the order came from the Madison County Board of Health, not from the Alabama Department of Public Health nor Madison County itself.

Officers in Huntsville and the City of Madison, who are among those tasked with enforcing the order said it was the right move.

On Facebook, the Madison Police Department wrote:

The Madison Police Department urges citizens to follow the State Health order regarding the use of masks in public establishments. We ask that you be considerate of others and observe signs posted at businesses requiring customers to use masks while onthe property. Businesses have the authority to deny service to any customers who choose to disregard the State Health order much as they do when they require shirt and shoes. We hope that citizens would respect those establishments striving to adhere to the order and voluntarily comply with the recommendations. If a customer finds him or herself without a mask, some businesses are providing them. Also, the City of Madison has a limited supply of disposable masks and, when available, officers can provide you with one. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this uncertain time and hope you all stay safe and healthy.

The Huntsville Police Department said it shares the same sentiments.

“We think that the Madison County Board of Health is doing the right thing with the rise in positive case numbers,” said Lt. Michael Johnson, spokesperson for the department. “So we do want to encourage everyone to wear a mask.”

But similar to the plan HPD had for the governor’s Stay at Home order, the department said it will place a larger focus on educating and encouraging citizens to wear face coverings.

“Naturally somebody can always call the police department but we might be limited on what kind of enforcement action we’re going to take,” said Johnson. “If it comes to a business or a business owner, property owner that is allowing people on their property and not really making them wear masks. We do ask that they call the health department first.”

During the stay at home order, the City of Huntsville reported less than five citations were issued to businesses and property owners.

According to Johnson, state code will allow the department to issue citations for the county mask order. He said this is something the department wants everyone to take seriously, so citations and fines for non-compliance of the mask order may come.

“That’s something possibly that could be coming out pretty soon,” Johnson added.

However, a fine amount has not been set.

Johnson said the police department has ordered several thousand masks to keep on hand and give to citizens who don’t have them.

We will continue to follow any developments regarding possible citations and fines.

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