As Alabama begins to reopen some businesses and beaches on April 30, a new directive has also been announced. On Tuesday, Mayor Randall Woodfin mandated that residents of Birmingham are required to wear a mask or face covering in all public places during the COVID-19 health emergency. The decision goes into effect May 1 with a penalty for those who don't follow the measure.

According to the press release, failure to comply with the ordinance will leave violators stuck with a fine of up to $500 and even up to 30 days in jail.

Masks are required for children who are two and older.

The mandate is meant to be treated as a curfew violation, Woodfin says, with the ability to either pay a fine or appear in court.

The ordinance doesn't require the masks to be medical-grade, but rather defines them to be "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.” 

Exceptions to the ordinance include individual outdoor exercise like walking and jogging, or when wearing one poses a significant mental and physical threat to the individual. 

Also, while they do require children to wear a mask, the city acknowledges that it can cause a choking hazard for young children. So they suggest parents use a stroller with a covering so children can breathe freely or leaving them at home.

The city has been under a shelter-in-place ordinance since late March to help slow the spread of novel coronavirus, which was later extended on April 3.

Birmingham has not announced whether they will extend the city’s shelter-in-place order. It’s set to expire on April 30.

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