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Alabama Governor Adds Statewide Facial Covering Requirement to ‘Safer at Home’ Order

On July 15, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued an amended “Safer at Home” order, adding a facial covering requirement. This facial covering order, which goes into effect on July 16, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., requires (1) facial coverings for individuals; (2) protections for employees; and (3) protections for customers.

Facial Coverings for Individuals

An individual must wear a mask or other facial covering when the individual is “within six feet of a person from a different household in any of the following places: an indoor space open to the general public, a vehicle operated by a transportation service, or an outdoor public space where ten or more people are gathered.”

The amended order provides several exceptions “for practical necessity.” For example, the facial covering requirement “does not apply to:

(i) Any person six years of age or younger;

(ii) Any person with a medical condition or disability that prevents him or her from wearing a facial covering;

Any person while consuming food or drink, or seated at a restaurant to eat or drink;

(iv) Any person who is obtaining a service (for example, a medical or dental procedure) that requires removal of the facial covering in order to perform the service; or

(v) Any person who is required to remove the facial covering to confirm his or her identity, such as for security or screening purposes.”

The amended order also provides exceptions for exercise, including for an individual who is:

  • “actively engaged in exercise in a gym or other athletic facility if he or she maintains six feet of separation from persons of another household”;

  • “directly participating in athletic activities”; or

  • “in a swimming pool, lake, water attraction, or similar body of water, though wearing a face covering or social distancing is strongly encouraged if safe and practicable.”

There are also exceptions for effective communication and essential job functions. An individual is not required to wear a facial covering “where the ability to see the person’s mouth is essential for communication” or when the individual is “speaking for broadcast or to an audience if the person maintains six feet of separation from persons from another household.” Further, a facial covering is not required for “[a]ny person performing a job function if wearing a face covering is inconsistent with industry safety standards or a business’s established safety protocols.” The order also provides an exception for first responders “if necessary to perform a public-safety function.”

Lastly, there is an exception to the facial covering requirement to facilitate constitutionally protected activities. A facial covering is not required for an individual:

  • “who is voting, though wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged”; or

  • “who cannot wear a facial covering because he or she is actively providing or obtaining access to religious worship, though wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged.”

Employer Responsibilities

The amended order requires employers to “take reasonable steps, where practicable as work duties permit, to protect their employees by:

  1. encouraging use of masks and facial coverings;

  2. maintaining six feet of separation between employees;

  3. regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces;

  4. encouraging handwashing;

  5. preventing employees who are sick from coming into contact with other persons;

  6. facilitating remote working arrangements; and

  7. minimizing employee travel.”

Employers that are open to the public must also “take reasonable steps, where practicable, to protect their customers, constituents, or other guests by:

  1. encouraging use of masks and facial coverings;

  2. maintaining six feet of separation between such persons (except for those persons who share the same household); and

  3. regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces.”

The State of Alabama has created signage that businesses can use to notify customers of the mask requirement.

© 2020, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 199



About this Author

Sierra J. Gray Traditional Labor Relations Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart Birmingham, AL

Sierra Gray is an associate in the Birmingham office of Ogletree Deakins.

She advises employers in a variety of labor and employment matters. She is dedicated to helping her clients navigate complex workplace issues by providing practical advice and efficient, innovative representation. Sierra also represents employers in all aspects of traditional labor relations including representing and advising employers in union representation and unfair labor practice charges.

Prior to attending law school, Sierra graduated magna cum laude from Tuskegee University with a...