Atlanta mayor reinstates mask mandate requiring face coverings in public indoor spacesFILE 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.
Atlanta, GA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued an executive order reinstating the indoor mask mandate. All persons in a public place, including private businesses and establishments, will be required to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when indoors.
The order is in response to the rising number of COVID-19 infections, the impact of the Omicron variant and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a press release.
“The CDC has designated Fulton and DeKalb counties as areas of high transmission for the COVID-19 virus. Given this recent surge across the Atlanta area, and based upon the counsel from public health professionals, I am reinstating the citywide mask mandate,” Bottoms said. “We are watching the data daily and will continue to engage experts for guidance on how best to provide for the safety and wellbeing of our communities.”
Based on the latest data and recommendations from health professionals, Atlanta is moving to the Yellow Zone and reinstating the mask mandate indoors. According to the CDC, Fulton and DeKalb Counties are identified as areas of high community transmission.
In Fulton County, there have been 344 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks, as of Dec. 20. The average positivity rate in Fulton County for the last two week is 8.1%, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported. The positivity rate is the percentage of positive results per tests given.
In DeKalb County, there have been 248 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks and the positivity rate is 6.9% as of Dec. 20.
The Decatur City Commission also recently extended its face mask ordinance until Jan. 18, 2022.
“I think it’s a very simple act that we’re asking of ourselves and others,” Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold said at the Dec. 6 City Commission meeting.
Arnold sited low vaccination rates and the impacts hospitals are facing as reasons to retain the face mask ordinance.
“For those reasons — the low vaccination rate within our community and the broader community, the fact that the CDC does continue to recommend that people wear face coverings, the fact that there are a lot of uncertainties about the new variant, and as we proceed into the winter months and people are more likely to be gathering indoors,” Arnold said. “For all those reasons, I am recommending that we extend our current face covering ordinance until our second meeting in January.”
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. Individuals who are in outdoor public spaces are required to wear a mask when they cannot socially distance.