COVID-19: Federal court lifts travel mask requirement; 4th shot urged for those 50 plus; CDC quarantine & isolation calculator; Federal motor carrier emergency through May 31

Alabama’s limited state of emergency due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel human coronavirus, ended Oct. 31, 2021.

The limited state of emergency was NOT accompanied by a public health order. The state’s health order related to Alabama’s previous COVID-19 emergency expired May 31, 2021.

Vaccination and boosters remain the leading method of preventing severe disease and deaths from COVID-19,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said in his March 2022 update. The Centers for Disease Control recommends and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a fourth shot (second booster) to protect certain individuals both from infection and severe outcomes of COVID-19. For the latest about vaccinations in Alabama, see Alabama Retail’s vaccine landing page.

Alabama originally went under a COVID-19 state of emergency on March 13, 2020. That initial emergency ended July 6, 2021. A total of 27 supplemental proclamations were issued between March 13, 2020, and July 6, 2021 – 27th, 26th, 25th, 24th, 23rd, 22nd, 21st, 20th, 19th, 18th, 17th, 16th, 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, 11th, 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd supplements) The 26th lifted the statewide mask mandate.  Click here for emergency rules and actions taken by state agencies.

The United States remains under national emergency status. As a result, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an Emergency Declaration Order, which has been modified and extended through May 31, 2022. On March 2, the president released a plan to fight COVID-19 into the future.

View Alabama’s COVID-19 Dashboard
(Updated Monday through Friday)

This page is updated as needed with information related specifically to the global pandemic. See the Alabama Retail Associations’ Emergency Preparedness Page for broader emergency preparedness information. During uncertain times, consult your company lawyer, accountant, insurance company, banker/financial adviser about business and/or legal decisions.

Last updated 9 p.m., April 18, 2022

Federal Property | U.S. General Services Administration Guidance
CDC Recommends Masks on Public Conveyances and at Transportation Hubs
(Updated April 18, 2022)

TSA Mask Requirement Lifted
(Prior to federal court order had been extended until May 3, 2022)

When to Wear a  Mask; Proper Use and Care
Revised CDC mask guidance updated Feb. 25, 2022

Requirement for Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery for Air Passengers Arriving in United States
Effective 12:01 a.m. Jan. 26, 2021; Last updated Jan. 27, 2022

CDC Travel Recommendations by Destination
Updated April 18, 2022


If you have symptoms of COVID-19, visit or locate a testing site. You may also order free home tests from Every U.S. home is eligible to order four at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free of charge. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.

In December of 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to two oral treatments for COVID-19 – Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir. Both are available by prescription only and must be administered within five days of developing symptoms. Read ADPH Dec. 23, 2021 statement.

The medications are through your doctor, local pharmacies and health clinics. In March of 2022, a Test to Treat initiative was created to provide faster, easier access to COVID-19 treatments. After testing positive and seeing a healthcare provider, eligible individuals going to Test to Treat sites can immediately receive a prescription for an oral COVID-19 treatment and have that prescription filled – all at one location in a participating site.

(Link is web-based)
Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489)
Call center open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Central Time, 7 days a week
Disability Informatio​n and Access Line (DIAL) available for those with disabilities access services


Under its authority to establish state quarantine and isolation requirements, the Alabama Department of Public Health in December 2021, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, shortened the recommended isolation and quarantine period for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic and if those who test positive can wear a mask when around others for five days after leaving isolation. That same scenario applies to the vaccinated, but not yet boosted. For those exposed to someone with COVID, the best practice is to test at the fifth day after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms their symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.

While that guidance has not changed, the CDC on March 24, 2022, released a calculator for figuring when, and for how long, people with COVID-19 and close contacts need to stay home, get tested and wear a well-fitting mask.

COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation (Q&I) Calculator
Released March 24, 2022

CDC Quarantine Guidance
Updated Dec. 27, 2021

Isolation relates to behavior after a confirmed infection. Isolation for five days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimize the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Quarantine refers to the time following exposure to the virus or close contact with someone known to have COVID-19.

Initially issued Friday, Jan. 29, 2021; Updated June 10 and Aug. 13, 2021

CDC Info for Workplaces and Businesses

Duration of Isolation and Precautions for Healthcare Personnel
Treating Adults with COVID-19

(Updated Jan. 14, 2021)

ADPH  Health Alert Network Message to Healthcare Providers
(Issued Dec. 28, 2021)

CDC Testing Overview
(Updated Feb. 11, 2022)


The latest named COVID-19 variant is Omicron. The Alabama Department of Public Health first confirmed someone in Alabama infected with the Omicron variant Dec. 16, 2021. In late February 2022, the first Omicron BA.2 subvariant was reported in Alabama.

Lab testing confirms state’s first COVID-19 case involving Omicron variant
(Dec. 16, 2021, ADPH news release)

Emergence of Omicron variant serves as reminder to get COVID-19 vaccination
(Nov. 29, 2021, ADPH news release)


On March 10, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control updated its vaccination guidance. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 5 years and older get their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine, and everyone ages 12 years and older also receive a booster shot. Two CDC studies show COVID-19 vaccine boosters are highly effective against severe disease over time.


What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and Other EEO Laws (Updated March 14, 2022): This document includes a section providing information to employers and employees about how a COVID-19 vaccination interacts with the legal requirements of the the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).  Section K covers vaccination questions.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Caregiver Discrimination Under Federal Employment Discrimination Laws


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance Feb. 25 to a community level approach to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

On March 1, the Alabama Department of Public Health responded by recommending Alabamians take precautions based on their COVID Community Level:

  • These prevention steps should be taken when the level is low (green): Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if you have symptoms.
  • If the level is medium (yellow): If you are at high risk for severe illness or are immunocompromised, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if you have symptoms.
  • If the level is high (orange): Wear a mask indoors in public, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, get tested if you have symptoms. Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.”

The national emergency includes hours of service “regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers providing direct assistance supporting emergency relief related to COVID-19” for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. That declaration includes allowing transportation of “food for emergency restocking of stores” as one of the qualifiers for hours of service exemptions. It remains in effect until May 31, 2022.


On Feb. 12, 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law COVID-liability protection for businesses, healthcare providers and other groups. Its provisions are retroactive to March 13, 2020, and remain in effect until Oct. 31, 2022, a year after the state’s COVID-19 health emergency order expired. It provides civil immunity and protects against certain damages claimed by individuals who allege that they contracted or were exposed to COVID-19 due to an act or omission of a covered entity. Entities covered under the law include businesses, nonprofits, LLCs, health-care providers, educational entities, churches, governmental entities and cultural institutions operating in Alabama, as well as individuals associated with these entities. An entity would be liable if it acts with wanton, reckless, willful or intentional misconduct that can be proven under a “clear and convincing” evidentiary standard. Following applicable public health guidance frees the entities from liability.


Child, earned income and dependent care tax credits shielded from state income tax (Feb. 24, 2022)

Special session appropriation results in almost 30% reduction in unemployment compensation insurance tax rate for 2022 (Feb. 11, 2022)

Alabama won’t tax COVID stimulus payments or benefits (Feb. 12, 2021)

Alabama’s state health order expired May 31. Alabama’s uniform statewide mask mandate, which began July 15, 2020, expired April 9, 2021. Businesses and local governments can set their own requirements.

Mask Signage Provided by the State of Alabama
(For businesses wishing to continue to require or encourage face coverings)

Download Zip File of Shop Alabama Mask Graphics
(See Examples Below)

Q & A with Alabama Retail’s Employment Law Partner
about Store Mask Policies Without a Mandate

Federal Face Covering Guidelines 
Based on your COVID-19 Community Level and personal risk level, the CDC recommends wearing a well-fitted mask along with vaccination, self-testing and physical distancing, to protect you and others by reducing the chance of spreading COVID-19.

FAQs on cloth face coverings in the workplace (OSHA)


May 10, 2021, News Release: As of June 19, 2021, Alabama ended its participation in all federally funded pandemic unemployment compensation programs, the governor said. The Alabama Department of Labor also reinstated the work search requirement for all claimants, which was temporarily waived during the height of the pandemic. This requires all claimants to actively search for work to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington also issued a video statement (comments begin at 2:07) in regard to dropping the $300 in extra weekly federal unemployment benefits.


AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT OF 2021 (HR 1319): The president signed into law a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on March 11, 2021.  The package includes: almost $29 billion in grants for restaurants (expired July 2, 2021), $7.5 billion for vaccine distribution, $48 billion for testing and contact-tracing efforts, $1,400 in direct payments to most Americans, a $300 per week supplemental unemployment bonus through Sept. 6 (ending in Alabama June 19) and more than $7 billion more for Paycheck Protection Program loans. On March 30, the president signed HR1799, which extended the application deadline for forgivable PPP loans to May 31. It gives the Small Business Administration until June 30 to process the loans.

EMERGENCY CORONAVIRUS RELIEF ACT OF 2020: Late Dec. 21, 2020, Congress delivered a $900 billion relief bill to the president. He signed H.R. 133 into law Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. The relief package includes $284 billion for forgivable small business loans, targeted grants, tax credits for offering paid sick leave and employee retention, $600 direct stimulus payments for most Americans, a $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and more.

CARES ACT (Link to the full law): On April 2, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department issued an interim final rule for the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program involved forgivable loans to small businesses through SBA-approved 7(a) lenders, banks, or credit unions as well as all federally insured depository institutions, federally insured credit unions and Farm Credit System institutions. The application process shut down from April 16 through April 26 due to lack of funding. SBA resumed taking applications at 10:30 a.m. EDT Monday, April 27, 2020.

Deferral of employment tax deposits and payments through Dec. 31 (IRS FAQs): The CARES Act allows employers to defer the deposit and payment of the employer’s share of Social Security taxes and self-employed individuals to defer payment of certain self-employment taxes.

U.S. Treasury Department CARES Act webpage

FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (Link is to full text of legislation signed into law March 18, 2020) The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes two employment-related components – the Emergency Family and Medical Expansion Leave Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. This federal legislation took effect April 1, 2020. It expired Dec. 31, 2020.

Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce
: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security, issued an advisory list for local and state leaders to identify workers essential to critical infrastructure to ensure public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. The advisory list is not an exclusive list. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion. It now identifies distribution center workers, truck drivers, electronic and hardware employees as critical infrastructure workers. The link is to a letter and a graphic that lists essential workers by industry categories. It provides guidance on how jurisdictions and critical infrastructure owners can use the list to prioritize essential workers’ ability to work safely while supporting ongoing infrastructure operations across the nation.

SBA’s Resource Partners: Reach out to SBA’s resource partners located throughout Alabama if you need assistance.

Alabama Small Business Development Center Network has compiled a Guide to Conquering a Business Crisis, a Guide to Business Continuity/Disaster Assistance that includes an emergency plan and a Checklist for Managing in Times of Financial Difficulty. Visit Alabama SBDC Network’s COVID-19 Small Business Resource Center.


Preventative measures include frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, not touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, staying home when sick and practicing social distancing.

Anyone with fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting or diarrhea should:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • With a medical emergency when calling 911, notify the dispatcher about your condition.

Activities and Gatherings (CDC website): This includes ways to slow the spread and a link to small and large gathering guidance.

CDC information about how the COVID-19 disease spreads (CDC website): The virus spreads easily between people. Infections occur mainly through respiratory droplets when a person is in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours.

FDA warns about hand sanitizers containing methanolDo Not Use List

Keeping workplaces, homes, schools, or commercial establishments safe (CDC graphic)

ServSafe Offers Free Courses Related to Food Handling: ServSafe offers three free training videos: Reopening Guidance: COVID-19 Precautions; Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions; and Takeout: COVID-19 Precautions.

ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS (IRS website):  The payments, also referred to by some as stimulus payments, were automatic for most taxpayers. No further action is needed by taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reports the  number of Alabama deaths and confirmed cases of coronavirus.

For information about COVID testing in Alabama, go to

COVID-19 Related Emergency Actions of State Agencies: Emergency rules and other emergency actions taken by state agencies in Alabama’s response to COVID-19. For more information, please contact the agency directly.

Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus
(OSHA poster)

  • Communicate and reinforce safe workplace practices (e.g., hand washing, disinfection)
    • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces.
    • Provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60 percent alcohol, disinfectants and disposable towels for workers to clean their work surfaces.
    • Require regular hand washing or using of alcohol-based hand rubs.
  • Encourage employees who experience symptoms to stay home and isolate sick employees until they can get to medical professionals and/or home,
  • Communicate how absences will be handled (under both absenteeism policies and for purposes of compensation). If you don’t already have one, consider having an emergency sick leave policy specifically for the coronavirus or communicable diseases and communicate that policy with employees.
  • Allow work from home where feasible and practice the social distance of six feet for those who remain on the job.

Worker Exposure Risk Chart (OSHA): Categorizes jobs as very high risk, high risk, medium risk and lower risk.






Originally posted at 3:54 p.m. March 9, 2020