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Decatur City Commission extends face mask ordinance until Jan. 18, 2022

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Decatur City Commission extends face mask ordinance until Jan. 18, 2022

FILE PHOTO USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES: A long time street corner vendor in unincorporated DeKalb County shifted his focus from selling t-shirts to masks, gloves and sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission extended the city’s face mask ordinance until Jan. 18, 2022. The city has had a mask ordinance in effect since about July 20, 2020. The ordinance expired on June 21 and was replaced with a new ordinance on Aug. 16, which was extended again on Nov. 1. The ordinance expired at midnight on Dec. 6.

“I think it’s a very simple act that we’re asking of ourselves and others,” City Manager Andrea Arnold said.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 52% of Georgia residents and 54% of DeKalb County residents have been fully vaccinated as of Dec. 6. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 63.8% of the U.S. population aged five and older are fully vaccinated.

“That certainly should have an impact on our decision about making decisions with our mask ordinance. We are behind the national average,” Arnold said.

Hospitals continue to experience the impacts of COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated, she added.

“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.

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.

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