David Benton

Siri Hedreen / The Outlook

David Benton points to a sign outlining his COVID-19 policies. The sign is staying up after April 9.

There's no law saying one can't walk around barefoot, but that can't stop shops and restaurants from declaring 'No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service."

The same goes for face coverings after April 9, when Alabama's indoor mask mandate will expire. After the 9th, masks will be a matter of "personal responsibility," Gov. Kay Ivey said earlier this month, indicating she herself would continue to wear one. Ivey doubled down on her plans not to renew the mask requirement on Monday following a call from President Joe Biden for states to keep or reinstate their mask orders.

From the 10th onward it'll be up to individual entities to set their own policies, if any. For many Tallapoosa County businesses, that'll mean customers will still be expected to wear masks as if the state mask order were still in place.

"We're going to have them on," Alexander City business owner David Benton said.

Benton's Beauty Supply & Fashions will continue not just its mask policy but curbside pick-up system, Benton said. For the past year, he's been asking customers to call ahead with their orders and will continue to do so after April 9.

"We're just going to keep doing it because I lost too much family and friends to take this lightly," he said. "We're just going to be safe."

Local stores that are part of a chain or franchise are also likely to have corporate policies to adhere to.

Loan agency Security Finance, which has a branch in Alexander City, has a maximum occupancy of two people in its branches in addition to its mask requirement.

"It trickles down from South Carolina and they'll tell us what to do," said Dichelle Leonard, who works at Security Finance's Alex City location.

As South Carolina where Security Finance is headquartered does not have a statewide mask order, it's unlikely Alabama's mask mandate expiration will change anything.

Earlier this month, Dollar General issued a statement saying it would continue to require its employees, vendors and customers to wear face coverings at all stores in states both without and without mask orders. Walmart, Home Depot and Walgreens will also continue to require customers wear masks in Alabama, as they have done in other states without mask orders.

Piggly Wiggly, which is comprised of independently owned franchises, does not specify a company-wide mask policy, though some stores adopted their own policies before the statewide mask mandate started in July. The owner of the Alexander City Piggly Wiggly could not be reached for comment.

As for small independent businesses, once the state regulations are lifted it's "my house, my rules." For some, that'll mean no rules.

Tara Wilson, co-owner of clothing and home decor boutique Thirty-Two Main, said she wasn't planning on doing anything differently April 10.

"We don't mean that we didn't make (customers) wear masks, because that's what that would sound like," Wilson said. "We just mean, what could we do now that the mask mandate is done?"

While some stores such as Benton's will be implementing their own policies, however, Wilson said she had no such plans for Thirty-Two Main.

"We're not going to require anymore," Wilson said. "The governor says we don't have to wear them; we're just going to go with that.

"And the customers will be happy," she added.