No mandatory mask ordinances on tap in any Shoals cities

Mayors in the Shoals WAAY31 spoke with all agree it's up to an individual.

Posted: Jun 25, 2020 7:34 PM

WAA Y31 has spent the week asking leaders across North Alabama what it would take to put mandatory masking policies in place.

Health experts recommend everyone wear a mask to slow coronavirus, but no one in North Alabama is forced to wear one.

Mayors in the Shoals told WAAY 31 making a mandatory mask order for their cities wouldn't be feasible to enforce.

"My message is masks are recommended but not required," said Florence Mayor, Steve Holt.

Holt said with 90 to 100 police officers working three shifts enforcing a mask ordinance isn't doable.

"It would detract our entire police force in trying to see if you have a mask on rather than the other issues of the day," said Holt.

Holt said wearing a mask is a personal choice. Tuscumbia Mayor Kerry Underwood agrees.

"Mandating something like that what you wear when your outside your own home feels like an over reach of what my role and responsibility as a mayor is," said Underwood.

Underwood left his mask in his truck for this interview. He admits the mask debate is tough.

"This is an issue I struggle with internally because I have people I know who are susceptible, including my parents because of their age, and so for them I want to be safe and protected and I want people to behave as they should to protect those people around them," said Underwood.

Alabama set a record with more than 1,000 reported new cases on Thursday. Twenty-one of them are in the Shoals.

For health care officials masks are a must.

"While we see more activity in the community we really think the lack of masking the lack of face covering is what's attributing to the higher numbers rather than the pier activity," said Kyle Buchanan, President of Helen Keller Hospital.

Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford said he wouldn't be opposed to a mask order if all four cities (Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia) agreed to it because that would make it easier to enforce.

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