Birmingham’s COVID-19 mask mandate has extended, per Tuesday’s city council meeting, past the statewide expiration date April 9, until May 24th.
“The city of Birmingham has always led on the issue of doing what is necessary from a health crisis standpoint,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin. “Our local health officials agree that masks are still needed.”
Woodfin said that while the number of Covid cases are decreasing, it is imperative to continue to wear masks to help both individuals and businesses.
“A majority of citizens have not had or had access to the vaccine,” Woodfin said. “Small business owners have messaged me and said they do not want to have the interaction of enforcing mask orders on possible patrons. They want the city to intervene on their behalf.”
Woodfin said the extension to the mandate will allow for Birmingham small business owners to refuse serving individuals who do not wear a mask.
“Small business owners have the right to refuse you if you don’t wear a mask,” Woodfin said. “The only time police will engage is where the employer or business owner says someone is trespassing or has become disorderly.”
Councilman Hunter Williams said the extension will hurt small business instead of helping them.
“It puts an undue burden on the business owners and the city of Birmingham as well as outdoor events and concerts,” Williams said.
Williams also said one municipality in the county will not make a significant effect.
“We have 32 municipalities in Jefferson County and having only one have an order doesn’t really make an effect,” Williams said.
Councilman Darrel O’Quinn said he believes most residents desire the mandate’s extension.
“What I have heard from constituents is that Birmingham is an oasis,” O’Quinn said. “There may be a few people that decide they don’t want to come to downtown, the place I represent, due to the mask mandate but I think a majority will appreciate this.”
Prior to the extension passing, Councilman John Hillard said he was glad to see city officials doing something to help keep citizens healthy.
“My heart just bursts with joy to see us protect our citizens,” Hillard said, “at all costs. I’m excited to know we are doing everything we can to protect lives,”