The Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously adopted a measure Tuesday that will require face masks in all public places in the city limits effective July 6th.

The ordinance was added to the city council's agenda in response to a gradual but consistent increase in confirmed cases of the pandemic both locally and statewide. Mayor Walt Maddox has said he is not legally able to pass an executive order requiring masks within the city limits and that the council will have to approve such a step.

Because the mandate was introduced during a suspension of regular meeting rules, it required a unanimous vote from the seven-member council, which seemed unlikely even hours before the votes were cast, but ultimately all city representatives voted in favor of the measure.

"It's sad that the city has to mandate a mask, I wish that people would take personal responsibility and I've been saying that for months," District 4 City Councilman Kip Tyner said. "Obviously people are not going to do that, so I'm supporting this mask ordinance."

Council President Cynthia Almond said she was against a mask ordinance as recently as last week, but said to do nothing puts the city at risk of having to shutdown its businesses again to slow the spread, an economic blow many would not survive.

"As our nation's state and community's case numbers continue to rise dramatically, I worry we are on the verge of another shutdown," Almond said. "So tonight I'm going to cast my vote in favor of a face mask ordinance."

Maddox thanked the council for their votes and cooperation, and promised that if masks prove ineffective, the city will not stick to its requirement for the sake of it -- he said the council will nimbly consider all factors and adjust direction as circumstances dictate.

"None of us want to have to go to a shutdown," Maddox said. "I believe at this point, this may be the least restricting measure we can take as a governing body to see if it works."

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