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University of Alabama extends mask requirement for COVID-19

September 30, 2021 GMT
Alabama fans cheer during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama fans cheer during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama fans cheer during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama fans cheer during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Alabama fans cheer during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama has extended its indoor mask requirement through Oct. 29 to protect against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Face coverings will continue to be required inside all non-residential buildings on the campus in Tuscaloosa, including all classrooms and academic buildings, and on campus transportation through that date, the university announced Wednesday.

The policy applies even to people who are vaccinated, but there are some exceptions to the rule on the campus of more than 38,000 students. Masks are not required in residence hall rooms or in residential common areas when social distancing is practiced.

Masks are also not required during football games at Bryant-Denny Stadium except for fans in enclosed areas such as elevators or club seating.

The practical effect of the rules are unclear since bars, restaurants and others businesses in the student-oriented city are operating without masking requirements and often are crowded, particularly on football weekends when thousands of visitors converge on the city.

The university’s announcement came as the Alabama Department of Public Health encouraged school systems statewide to continue requiring masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While some local districts have relaxed mask mandates because of declining cases, Jefferson County schools said they would extend a masking rule beyond Friday, when it had been set to expire.

Alabama has one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates and worst death rates from COVID-19. Statewide, 14,200 people have died from the illness, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.