MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Madison County appears to be one step closer to a mask ordinance following a vote by the Madison County Board of Health. The local board has approved a masking order that would require approval from State Health Officer Scott Harris.
The requested order defines a face covering or mask as “a device to cover the nose and mouth of a person to impede the spread of saliva or other fluids during speaking, coughing, sneezing or other intentional or involuntary action.”
If approved, this order would require everyone to wear face coverings in the following situations:
- Indoor spaces of business or venues open to the general public, included by not limited to stores, bars, and restaurants, entertainment venues, public meeting spaces, government buildings, civic centers, etc.
- Transportation services available to the general public, including mass transit, paratransit, taxi or ride-sharing services.
- Outdoor areas open to the public where ten or more persons are gathered and unable to maintain a distance of six or more feet between persons not from the same household.
All businesses open to the general public will post a notice at all public entrances stating face coverings are required inside the establishment.
A face covering will not be required in the following situations:
- Children 2 years and younger – Carriers and strollers with covers that allow the child to breathe comfortably are recommended as safe alternatives
- Eating or drinking – this exception is provided that they re-cover their faces when interacting with other persons like bartenders, servers or other customers.
- Medical Examinations or procedures – Patients in examination rooms of medical offices, dental offices, clinics or hospitals when there is a necessity to
- Hair Care Services – A customer’s face covering may be temporarily removed or displaced when necessary to provide hair care. Otherwise, customers and workers in hair care settings must wear face coverings while inside the hair care establishment
- Personal Safety – A face covering will not be required when wearing such a face covering poses a significant mental or physical health, safety, or security risk, such as when the person has trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or is unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
- This also includes people working on ladders or at a height, people wearing respiratory protection, those engaging in heavy physical exertion, people operating heavy equipment, and those working in an environment where a face covering would hinder communications needed for safety
- Places of Worship – They may use their discretion regarding face coverings, though they are highly recommended
- Effective Communication – The requirement will not apply when a person who is hearing-impaired needs to see the mouth of someone wearing a face covering to communicate. It also doesn’t apply to a person speaking to a large group of people as long as the speaker can stay at least 6 feet from other persons
- Indoor athletic facilities – This includes fitness centers, commercial gyms, and spas as well as yoga, barre and spin facilities. Patrons are not required to wear face coverings while actively participating in permitted activities. However, employees in regular interaction with patrons are required to wear face coverings.
- Private clubs and gatherings – Face Coverings aren’t required in meetings of private clubs or private organizations as long as 1) the meetings aren’t open to the general public; and 2) a consistent six foot distance between persons from different households is maintained.
Parents, guardians and caregivers are responsible for ensuring the proper masking of children over the age of two when in public places. They must also ensure the face covering doesn’t post a choking hazard for children.
- Discretion for young children – Parents, guardians and caregivers of children 8 years old or younger shall exercise their discretion regarding the ability of those children to consistently and effectively wear a face covering/mask
- Childcare establishments and schools – All schools, daycares and other childcare establishments shall develop their face covering policies and procedures based on guidance and recommendations from public health authorities and the State Department of Education. The policies should weigh the risks and benefits of masks to children, teachers and other school employees. Parents and guardians should be notified of the policies. Where the consistent use of face covering is not possible due to the supervision of multiple children, the facility shall adhere to sanitary, hygienic and face covering practices to the maximum extent practicable.
The order, that you can read in its entirety here, has a date on it that says the face covering order would be implemented in Madison County effective on July 1, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. The order hasn’t yet been approved, so that will not be the start order.
The finalized order says it will remain in effect until the Madison County Board of Health determines the public health condition in the county warrant discontinuation of or change in the order.
The members of the Madison County Board of Health approved the order by unanimous consent.
Members of the Madison County Board of Health
Paul Tabereaux, MD
Sherrie Squyres, MD
Aruna Arora, MD
Roger Smalligan, MD
Chris Parks, MD
Dale Strong, Madison County Commission Chair