In a matter of weeks, Alabama's mask mandate is set to expire.
We learned Friday that the Madison County mask mandate has the same expiration date. On Apr. 9, it'll be up to businesses and individuals if they mask up or not.
The topic of masks has always been a divided one, and that's still the case. We spoke with several people at Big Spring Park on Friday, and some were excited to hear about the mandate expiring while others were not.
At Thursday's Huntsville City Council meeting, several citizens chose to speak out against the mandate. That's when Mayor Tommy Battle announced the Huntsville-Area COVID-19 Leadership Team has made the decision to let the county-wide mask mandate expire when the state's does.
That decision was based off the current coronavirus-infection rate and the number of hospitalizations. We reached out to the mayor on Friday and learned city hall and municipal offices will still require masking. However, now, it's up to business owners if they will do the same, or let their customers choose.
Sandra Taylor, a Huntsville resident, said "it's just an act of respect, as well as an act of being concerned about your health."
Another Huntsville resident, Alex Keiningham, said "it's close to very good timing. Another week or two would be better, but at the end of the day, I think it should be up to businesses to really enforce it themselves."
However, one woman said she believes the decision should be entirely up to the individual and not the business.
"I don't necessarily think a business should tell me whether or not I should have to wear one. I feel like that's my own individual right and if someone else shopping in a store would like to wear one, I think absolutely if that makes you feel more comfortable," Brooke Sasso said.
Battle added if coronavirus cases begin to rise again, they can re-instate the mask order.
The biggest concerns among doctors we've spoken to in the past is that this could cause a spike in cases, since we haven't vaccinated enough people.
Only 24% of Madison County's population has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. To reach herd immunity, doctors say it needs to be around 60 to 70%.
The City of Decatur has yet to make a decision of its own. It has a citywide masking ordinance in place right now.
Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling told WAAY 31 that the city council will likely discuss whether or not to lift it this upcoming Monday during a work session meeting.
Mayor Tommy Battle provided the following statement:
"The City of Huntsville supports the consensus of the Huntsville-area COVID-19 leadership team, which looks to our state and local health care experts for guidance. At this time, our community is doing a good job keeping the number of positive cases down, and the team believes we will be able to allow the mask order to expire. This does not mean wearing masks will end. We will continue to mask up in City Hall and municipal offices, and will ask the public to do likewise when coming in to do business. For the community, they will be able to use personal responsibility on whether to wear a mask in their places of business, worship, dining, and congregant settings. Should the number of COVID-19 cases start to rise again, our health care partners reserve the right to reinstate the mask order. We hope our residents will get the vaccine at their earliest opportunity and help keep us on the right track to getting this pandemic behind us."