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Decatur City Commission to vote on face mask ordinance after recommendation deemed not enough

COVID-19 Decatur Decaturish updates

Decatur City Commission to vote on face mask ordinance after recommendation deemed not enough

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Decatur City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.


Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission passed a resolution in support of face masks in a specially-called meeting Wednesday morning, and will vote on a more formal ordinance on Friday.

Commissioner Lesa Mayer posted on Facebook late on Tuesday night to notify the public of the specially-called meeting, noting that the resolution that was to be passed was not an ordinance, but a strong recommendation. “The topic on the agenda is the request to approve a resolution supporting the use of face coverings during the COVID-19 outbreak. This resolution is not a mask mandate or a mask ordinance, but rather a strong and formal recommendation and I want to be very transparent about that,” Mayer wrote. She urged the public to make their voices heard during the Public Comments section of the meeting.

According to Decatur resident Clare Schexnyder, residents who spoke during the Public Comments section of the meeting spoke unanimously in favor of an ordinance.

Mayor Patti Garrett told Decaturish that both the public and City Commissioners “expressed an opportunity to look at something that would be more enforceable and would be a law,” rather than simply a resolution. The ordinance will be created with input from City Manager Andrea Arnold.

The City Commission also discussed a sign initiative that would encourage people to wear face masks.

“What we approved was a sign initiative … we approved the use of the [City of Decatur] logo in a whimsical manner, and we did ask that some of the signs not be created until we make a decision about an ordinance,” said Garrett. “We asked that some [signs] are whimsical and some are more serious, and we are holding off on the serious ones until we consider an ordinance.” Garrett said the signs will be placed at the entrance of the city and public areas such as parks, and that the signs would serve as “fun reminders about the importance of wearing a mask to protect ourselves and other people.”

Clare Schexnyder said she considers both the resolution and the sign initiative to be “a symbolic gesture that was meaningless” and agrees with the demand for an ordinance.

“Today the city of Decatur commission passed a resolution that paves the way for a mask wearing mandate via ordinance that we will vote on in the next few days. Public input has been incontrovertible and we all believe that wearing masks saves lives,” Commissioner Kelly Walsh wrote in a Facebook post.

When asked why she did not utilize her executive power to create an ordinance, Mayor Garrett responded that those executive powers were only in effect during the previous shelter-in-place order. “I also feel that it’s important for our entire commission to vote on something like this. Particularly knowing that we are doing something that is not aligned with the state executive order, just from my personal standpoint, I feel like that should be a decision of the City Commission.”

Decaturish was not directly notified of the specially-called meeting ahead of time.

The City of Atlanta will mandate masks Wednesday, and Dekalb County and Doraville have recently announced considerations for mask ordinances.

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