Decatur City Commission extends face mask ordinance until Dec. 6FILE PHOTO: Chabad Decatur gave out free protective face masks at 315 W. Ponce in downtown Decatur May 9. Rabbi Avremi Slavaticki pictured here said, “When the CDC recommended wearing masks we worked around the clock to secure masks for the community. We secured just under 6,000 and came up with the idea of mask drive-thru distribution to the general community done in the safest way possible while they stay in their car.” Photo by Dean Hesse.
Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission extended the city’s face mask ordinance until Dec. 6. The board reinstated the ordinance on Aug. 16 and extended the ordinance on Sept. 27. The ordinance expired at midnight on Nov. 1.
“As of today, the pandemic is still here with us,” City Manager Andrea Arnold said. “Also, DeKalb County is a community with substantial transmission according to the CDC. For any communities that fall within that category, the recommendation is that masks should continue to be worn in public. In addition to the prevalence of the pandemic, vaccination rates are still relatively low.”
According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 50% of Georgians and 53% of DeKalb County residents are fully vaccinated as of Nov. 1. The state and county vaccination rates lag behind the national average of 67% for those 12 and older who are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done there. For those reasons the recommendation is that we continue with the mask ordinance to be in effect,” Arnold said. “I also do want to add that compliance has been extremely high in the community. We’ve received very few complaints.”
The ordinance requires residents and visitors to wear face masks while in any business, store or other place where goods and services are sold. The requirement does not apply to places of worship or polling places.
Employees of establishments in the city are also required to wear a mask, and those who are in outdoor public spaces are required to wear a mask when they cannot socially distance.
Businesses in the city must post a clearly visible sign near the front entrance notifying patrons of the face mask ordinance and a potential civil penalty. However, business owners can opt out and not consent to enforcement of the ordinance on their property.
Establishments that opt out have to post a sign informing customers they do not consent to enforcement of the ordinance.
Individuals who don’t comply with the ordinance can face a civil penalty of up to $25 on the first offense, and up to $50 on the second offense and any subsequent offenses, according to the ordinance.
Arnold she does not know how many businesses have opted out of the ordinance but suspects the number is low. She said one business reached out to her in advance to say they would not comply with the ordinance and explained that they were part of a larger corporation and needed to have the same rules for every location in the metro Atlanta area. The business also provided Arnold with a list of precautions they are taking.
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