Decatur is joining Atlanta and other municipalities around the state defying Gov. Brian Kemp and requiring face masks be worn in public as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to soar.
According to Decaturish, the Decatur City Commission approved the ordinance at a specially-called meeting on Friday morning. The mask requirement goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 11.
Face masks must be worn everywhere except a person’s home or personal vehicle. Masks also won’t be required while eating or drinking in a restaurant or during outdoor activities as long as social distancing is in place.
Penalties are $25 on the first offense, $50 for the second, and $100 on the third. An officer enforcing the ordinance will give warnings before issuing a penalty.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said in a media statement on July 9 that face mask orders issued by cities are “unenforceable,” but stopped short of saying the state would go to court over the issue. Kemp’s reopening executive orders implicitly state that cities cannot create their own mandates under the public health emergency.
Kemp said last month that requiring Georgians to wear masks was a “bridge too far,” but went on a seven-city tour encouraging residents to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The mayors of Atlanta, Savannah, Athens, Doraville, Brookhaven, and East Point have also issued mask mandates.
While MARTA has been handing out two million face masks to its riders, the transit agency won’t enforce wearing a mask on trains or buses. The AJC reports that the decision was made not to enforce the city’s new mask mandate out of fear of confrontations between riders and staff.