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Revival of Decatur mask ordinance would require non-participating businesses to notify the public

COVID-19 Decatur Trending

Revival of Decatur mask ordinance would require non-participating businesses to notify the public

FILE PHOTO: Amy Butner’s protective mask comes with a message. In Korean it reads “Lets Live together.” Downtown Decatur, April 26, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission at its Aug. 16 meeting plans to reconsider its decision to allow its mask ordinance to expire, with a significant difference: businesses can opt out of it, but the owners of these businesses must post signs notifying the public they’ve opted out.

The City Commission will hold its regular meeting on Aug. 16. The meeting will be held virtually and in person, starting with a work session at 6 p.m. Here are the attendance instructions:

This meeting will be held in-person. Members of the public wishing to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting may attend the meeting in one of two ways:

1. Attend in-person by coming to Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street. A  temperature check and wearing of a face covering are required for entry into the building.

2. Register in advance at https://zoom.us/j/97546457255. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may also participate by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering the meeting ID (The 11-digit number shown in the Zoom registration link.)

NOTE – This meeting will utilize virtual meeting technology. We cannot guarantee it will operate as planned. If your participation must be a matter of public record, attend the meeting in person or email your comments to City Manager Andrea Arnold at [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 16th.

Members of the public may also view the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video

Decatur had a face-covering ordinance in place for almost a year, adopting it in July 2020 and allowing it to expire in June 2021.

“In July 2020, in response to the Covid-19 public health emergency, the City Commission adopted a face covering ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn in public,” a memo from City Manager Andrea Arnold says. The memo is attached to the Aug. 16 meeting agenda. “After multiple extensions, the ordinance was allowed to expire on June 21, 2021 based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the widespread availability of the Covid-19 vaccine. Over the past few weeks, the highly transmissible Delta variant combined with low vaccination rates within the region have resulted in new daily cases within DeKalb/Fulton/Gwinnett counties on par with the surge in January 2021 and increased pressure on local hospital capacity. Additionally, the CDC issued new guidance at the end of July recommending that all people, including those who are fully vaccinated, wear face coverings indoors in public in areas of substantial or high transmission. DeKalb County is an area of high transmission.”

Arnold said given the resurgence of the virus and given that children under 12 can’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine, she’s encouraging the City Commission to adopt the face-covering ordinance again. But this time, businesses will have the option to opt out.

“Differences include the addition of polling places and bona fide religious objections as exceptions to the face covering requirement, as well as allowing establishments to opt-out of enforcement of the ordinance on their property,” Arnold’s memo says. “If an establishment chooses to opt-out, it must post signage at all public entrances stating that it does not consent to enforcement of the face covering requirement.”

Arnold said there has been “extremely high compliance” with the city’s mask ordinance over the last year, and she expects that to continue.

“I urge every establishment to do the right thing, especially for our children that cannot be vaccinated, and fully participate in the face covering requirement. Adoption of [the ordinance] requiring face coverings to be worn in public is recommended,” Arnold says in the memo.

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