Lt. Gov. Ainsworth calls on Ivey to lift mask mandate

Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (Office of Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama’s Safer at Home Order, including the controversial mask mandate, is set to expire this Friday, March 5 at 5 p.m. Gov. Kay Ivey will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Thursday to announce if the order and mandate will be extended or if she will let them expire.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth on Wednesday issued a statement urging Ivey to life the mandate:

I urge Gov. Kay Ivey to immediately lift the statewide mask mandate and allow citizens and local officials the liberty to make the decisions that best fit their circumstances.

Since its implementation last July, I have held the position that a statewide mask mandate is an overstep that infringes upon the property rights of business owners and the ability of individuals to make their own health decisions.

In addition, it imposes a one-size-fits-all, big-government requirement on cities, towns, counties, and other areas that have low-to-moderate infection rates and little need for such a mandate.

Rescinding the blanket mask order and lifting capacity restrictions and other limitations will also send the loud, clear, and unmistakable message that Alabama is once again fully open for business.

Individuals who wish to continue wearing masks may do so, and business owners certainly have the right to require their employees and customers to wear face coverings, if they wish. Local governments may pass their own requirements, as well.

Until we reach adequate vaccination and immunity levels, I encourage everyone to continue social distancing, practicing good hygiene, and making smart decisions that affect their own health and the health of those around them.

But we can do all of these things without a Big Brother-style government mandate looming over us.

Meanwhile, the Alabama Hospital Association and other health care professionals are calling on the governor to extend the order and mandate.

“It just seems to me until we get more people vaccinated, the most prudent thing to do is to stay the course and continue to try to drive these numbers down, especially because we are still worried about the U.K. variant and the South African variant,” Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association, told the Associated Press.

UAB Dr. Sarah Nafziger said Wednesday she favors keeping the statewide mask mandate in place to help protect against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to The Tribune’s Birmingham media partner, WVTM-13.

“Ivey is facing pressure to lift the requirement after other Republican-led states, Texas and Mississippi, recently decided to ease and end restrictions,” reported WVTM-13. “Nafziger, who serves as UAB’s vice president of clinical support services, said easing restrictions before more people are vaccinated could reverse an overall trend of improvement.”

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Nafziger said.

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Wendy Sack