Enforcement of Gov. Kay Ivey's statewide mask mandate and social distancing orders has been mostly toothless in Tuscaloosa since they were enacted earlier this month, but mayor Walt Maddox said that will change soon for consistently non-compliant businesses and individuals.

A Tuscaloosa Police spokesperson said last week that no individuals have been cited or booked for violating the mask mandate, and Maddox said in a Tweet Monday that no businesses have been cited for failing to enforce social distancing guidelines.

Maddox said he hopes people will wear masks and business owners will follow the rules for the sake of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping their neighbors safe, but added that repeat offenders, both individuals and businesses, can soon expect stricter enforcement of the law.

The statewide mask mandate is currently set to expire Friday at 5 p.m., but may be extended or altered before that time. Even if it expires, the city's mask mandate adopted in late June was to be enforced until at least August 5th and would likely go back into effect if Ivey allows the state's order to expire.

The penalty for violating the state mandate is a $500 fine and/or jail time. Ivey has maintained since adopting the emergency order that her goal is just to see people choose safe behavior, not to strictly enforce the order or send police looking for violators.

It's impossible to know what the next few weeks hold for the state mandate or its local version in Tuscaloosa, but violators should consider themselves on notice from Mayor Maddox -- start following the rules, or risk a citation for yourself or your business.

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