HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Madison County mask order will end with the state order on Friday, April 9. Officials with the Madison County Board of Health said they are hesitant to lift the order but said the science supports easing restrictions.
“We are now at a point where the numbers are flattening, we’re doing much better than we were,” said Dr. Sherrie Squyres, Chair of the Madison County Board of Health. “That said, we’re not out of danger.”
A release form the Madison County Board of Health states, “We must be careful and remember that many are still vulnerable. This pandemic is NOT over, and we must not let our guard down.”
Sqyres said the board does recognize many are ready for loosened restrictions.
“We do think people are ready to relax a little, but what we don’t want to do is say we’re ready to let them just go,” she said. “We are asking people to be responsible.”
Sqyre said the board still hopes people will wear masks when they’re around people they don’t live with.
“We’re asking that schools, healthcare facilities, even churches, places where people congregate or are exposed to other people that aren’t in their immediate family, we want them to continue to require masks in those places,” she said.
The end of the mask order brings up a tricky situation for businesses. Now business owners can decide if they plan to require masks in their stories and restaurants.
“We’re urging business owners to require people who come into their business to continue to mask and we want them to require their employees to mask just to protect themselves,” she said. “We feel like it’s in their best interest to keep their businesses open and keep their employees and their families healthy.”
The release went to on to discuss how crucial masks have been within the past year and say until enough people get vaccinated, the masks should remain.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 will be the key to returning people to everyday life. Currently approved (EUA) COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing illness, hospitalizations, and death. Get a vaccine when you can!”
But, Squyres said even for those who are vaccinated, you should still be careful.
“Even if you are vaccinated, there is a lot about this virus we don’t know,” Squyres said. “There are new versions of it, there are risks we just don’t want people to take. We have a very vulnerable population.”
Officials with the Board of Health say they will continue to monitor the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID in the area. They even went on to say they are prepared to reinstate the mask mandate if that’s what it takes to keep the community healthy.
The final statement in the release expresses their hope for a mask less future.
“We look forward to the day when we do not need to be as vigilant. We believe that day will be sooner if we proceed with caution now.”