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Local mask mandates in Georgia | What you need to know

Several cities in the state have ignored Gov. Kemp and are mandating mask use. Here's what the rules are in each of those areas.

ATLANTA — Several cities across Georgia have taken a step beyond Gov. Brian Kemp's recommendation regarding masks and started to require mask use to protect citizens from the spread of COVID-19.

But with each municipality taking on the task of regulating mask use within their borders, the individual requirements are slightly different in each area.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she has continuously asked Gov. Kemp to mandate masks in Atlanta in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, but, she said he has "refused."

Savannah took the step first on June 30, when that city's mayor signed an executive order requiring the use of masks in public spaces within the city of Savannah.

In metro Atlanta, similar orders have been enacted in Athens-Clarke County, Brookhaven, Doraville, East Point and the city of Atlanta.

RELATED: As Georgia COVID-19 cases surge, fewer ICU beds available

We will keep track of the particular rules and regulations from each municipality as they are issued on this page:

Atlanta

On Wednesday evening, Bottoms signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency requiring mask use by everyone inside the city limits of Atlanta.

Bottoms said COVID-19 is "wreaking havoc" in the city. In a statement announcing the order, Bottoms wrote that the measure would help slow the spread of the virus in Atlanta.

Her order stepped over and above the governor's previous relaxation of his public health emergency orders regarding public gatherings within the city limits and bans gatherings of more than 10 people on city property.

Bottoms' order says that anyone inside commercial establishments or public spaces in which proper social distancing is not possible is required to wear a face covering. Her order also applies to all people flying into and out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

RELATED: Atlanta mayor signs executive order requiring masks, effective immediately

Exceptions to the order include those under the age of 10, anyone with a medical condition or disability, and anyone inside their personal vehicle. There are also exceptions for those engaging in services that require the temporary removal of masks, such as surveillance screenings personal care services and the like.

"Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that wearing a face-covering helps," she said, echoing her statements from earlier.

"We will never be able to reopen our schools and our economy if we don't take some responsibility for what we can do as leaders to make sure that people aren't exposed to this virus," she said on MSNBC.

Code enforcement officers will be authorized to enforce the mandate. Penalties for violations could include a citation, or, in strict enforcement, an arrest. If convicted, the sentence could include up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Athens-Clarke County

A new mandate went into effect on Thursday, July 9, in Athens-Clarke County, requiring residents and visitors to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth in any public place outside of a person's home or vehicle -- and when social distancing is not allowed.

This includes anyone entering any commercial establishment, like restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores and the like.

The reqruirement does not include religious establishments, though use there is strongly recommended.

RELATED: Athens-Clarke County unanimously passes mask mandate

The mandate does not apply to those under the age of 10 or anyone who has an underlying health condition.

There are also exceptions for when a person is eating, drinking, smoking or when use of a mask would prevent the receipt of personal services.

Violators would be given notice by police or code enforcement officers and could face a fine of $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second offense, $100 for a third offense and beyond.

Avondale Estates

The City of Avondale Estates Board of Mayor and Commissioners voted Monday, July 13 to adopt a resolution mandating the use of protective facial coverings or masks by those inside businesses and those outside who are in areas where social distancing is not feasible. 

The resolution requires that, while indoors, all customers, employees, and other users of restaurants, retail stores, and all other public places shall wear a mask or face covering. 

Additionally, face coverings or masks are for persons while outdoors in an environment in which people cannot maintain at least six feet of physical distance from one another unless the group is part of the same family household. The resolution, which is effective immediately, lists a handful of exceptions:

  • Children under the age of ten (10)
  • People who cannot wear face coverings due to documented medical or behavioral conditions
  • People whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering
  • While eating or drinking
  • When complying with the directions of a law enforcement officer or for the purposes of verifying a person’s identity

Warnings will be given as necessary, allowing the person or people without a mask the opportunity to wear one or leave the area. However, there are civil penalties provided in the resolution of $100 for the offense.

Brookhaven

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst signed an executive order on Thursday, July 9, which requires the use of face masks for everyone entering commercial establishements in the city.

The executive order requires employees of all restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores, and pharmacies to wear a face mask while at work.

Anyone who is unable to safely wear a face mask for any reason should not go into public spaces. Anyone who fails to comply with the order is subject to a fine of not more than $500.

College Park

The city adopted a public mask ordinance during a special meeting Friday, July 9.

The ordinance requires the wearing of face coverings in all commercial establishments serving the general public - businesses, organizations, municipal buildings or other establishments within College Park’s jurisdiction. Religious establishments are not included in the ruling. 

The new ordinance goes into effect Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

College Park’s ordinance requires the use of masks in all commercial establishments within the city, as well as outdoor settings where it is not feasible to maintain a six (6) feet social distance.

Council members emphasized during the meeting that the ordinance was not created for punitive purposes, but to support the safety of all citizens. 

Penalties for non-compliance include written warnings; repeat violators can be fined up to $50.

The ordinance does offer latitude to those unable to safely wear a face covering due to age or preexisting conditions. Persons under 10 years of age are also not required to wear masks in public.

Face coverings are not required for the following circumstances:

  • While in personal motor vehicles;
  • While alone in an enclosed space or only with other household members;
  • While engaging in exercise activities if the person can maintain a minimum of six (6) feet from others who are not household members;
  • While outdoors if the person can maintain a minimum of six (6) feet from others who are not household members;
  • While in a swimming pool;
  • While eating, drinking, or smoking;
  • While obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering for security surveillance, screening, or need for specific access to the face, such as visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face or head, but only to the extent necessary for temporary removal;
  • While voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election;
  • While speaking for a broadcast or to an audience.

Decatur

A new city ordinance went into effect in Decatur on Saturday, July 11, requiring the use of masks or protective facial coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Masks are required to be worn by all persons entering a business, store or non-profit providing goods or services. Employees in such establishments are also required to wear facial coverings.

Exceptions to the ordinance include in personal vehicles, by children under the age of 10, while drinking or eating, when a licensed healthcare provider has determined that wearing a facial covering or mask would cause or aggravate a health condition for the individual.

Credit: City of Decatur Facebook page
Statues in downtown Decatur wearing masks

In addition, exceptions have been made when complying with directions of law enforcement officers or for the purposes of the verification of one's identity, such as the purchase of alcohol, prescription drugs, or during financial transactions. 

They are also not required for religious establishments, though the use of facial coverings and masks are highly recommended in those settings.

The city plans to provide complimentary masks to those who need them, along with an explanation of the critical need for masks to be worn during the pandemic.

Civil penalties for those who violate the ordinance begin at $25 for the first offense, $50 for a second offense and $100 for third and successive offenses.

DeKalb County

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners voted Monday, July 13 to approve a mask ordinance. The ordinance is in the process of being shared with the CEO of DeKalb County for his signature.

Under the order, everyone present in the county and older than the age of 8 is required to use a face covering or mask which covers the nose and mouth when in any public place.

Additionally, no employer can prohibit an employee from wearing a face covering, except to the extent that doing so would prevent the employee from performing an essential job function that cannot be performed while wearing a face covering. 

Exemptions to the order include: 

  • During outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum a 6-foot radius from others who are not part of that person’s household;
  • In personal vehicles;
  • If the use of a face covering prohibits effective communication, in which case it may be removed solely to address any immediate need to communicate and replaced thereafter, provided that appropriate social distance is observed during any such communication;
  • If a medical provider has advised against the use of a face covering due to an underlying medical issue or because wearing such covering presents a health, safety, or security risk;
  • If wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition;
  • If wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services;
  • If removal of the face cloth is necessary to treat or examine a person subject to the direction of a medical professional;
  • When consuming food or beverages, but the face covering must be used when interacting with others not at the table, like servers;
  • If temporary removal of the face cloth is necessary for the purposes of verifying a person’s identity for the purposes of law enforcement, purchasing alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs;
  • If a person is employed and working in their capacity as a governmental professional (i.e. public safety, fire, sanitation), or medical professional and is wearing more protective equipment or is otherwise prohibited from utilizing a face covering by the policy of their employer;
  • If an employer consults with an occupational safety and health professional who determines in writing that face coverings are not appropriate for employees, because of heat or other health related or safety concerns (like straps being caught in machinery or standing on a ladder); or
  • If wearing a mask poses a greater mental or physical health safety or security risk such as when a person has trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or is unable to remove the face covering without assistance. 

The county also includes exemptions for children, childcare establishments and schools.

  • Children two years of age and under should not wear face coverings or masks while in a public place as the mask may pose a risk of choking, strangulation or suffocation to infants and young toddlers. Carriers and strollers with covers that allow the child to breathe comfortably are recommended as safe alternatives.
  • Children three to eight years of age are encouraged but not required to wear face coverings. Parents or guardians are responsible for ensuring the proper masking of children over the age of two years when in public places. Parents or guardians must also ensure that the face covering does not pose a health hazard for children and can be worn safely.  
  • Parents or guardians of children eight years or younger should exercise their own discretion regarding the wearing of masks by such children. 
  • All schools, daycares, and other child care establishments are responsible for developing face covering policies and procedures based on guidance from public health authorities, the state department of education and the local board of education. The policies should weigh the risks and benefits of masks to children, teachers and other employees of such establishments. Parents and guardians should be notified of such policies and procedures.  Where the consistent use of face coverings or masks is not possible due to supervision of multiple children, the facility shall adhere to sanitary, hygienic and face covering practices to the maximum extent possible.  
  • All people other than teachers, employees and children in such establishments shall abide by the applicable provisions of this article. Teachers, children and employees shall abide by the policies developed by such establishment as delineated in this article.    

According to the ordinance, enforcement will be conducted by authorized county employees, including police officers, code enforcement officers, and/or inspectors.

While people will not be arrested for violating the ordinance, any person who does anything prohibited or fails to do anything required by this article - upon citation and conviction of the ordinance violation - will be subject to a written warning for the first violation and a fine of up to $250 after that.

Doraville

According to a news release from Doraville city officials, a new ordinance will be introduced at a meeting on Monday, July 13, requiring the use of face masks in public.

The ordinance is expected to cover all public spaces, including grocery stores, restaurants and city facilities.

However, the ordinance will not cover places of worship, though the city's press release says "the use of masks remains highly encouraged there as well."

RELATED: Doraville to require masks in public

Additional exceptions include inside a car, participating in outdoor activities at a distance, and "when wearing a mask would cause or exaggerate an existing health condition."

“Masks are the most effective tool we all have to prevent the spread of coronavirus and mandating their use indoors will help us get this public health emergency under control more quickly with the least impact on people’s day-to-day lives," Doraville Mayor Joseph Geierman said in a statement. "This ordinance will allow businesses and government to continue operating while keeping our citizens, visitors, and workers as safe as possible. In the meantime, I would encourage everyone to proactively wear their masks and am grateful to those already doing so.”

According to Geierman, COVID-19 cases have tripled in the city's zip codes since May 19.

Dunwoody

The Dunwoody City Council approved a mask mandate that starts July 16, 2020 and remains in effect for at least 30 days. It applies to commercial locations and other buildings or spaces open to the public. Outdoor public spaces when 6 feet of social distance isn’t possible are also included.

There are exceptions. The mandate does not apply to children under 10 or those with a medical condition that prevents masking. Masks are not required while eating or drinking, inside a personal vehicle, in a swimming pool, during physical activity with social distancing, or inside places of worship.

East Point

A new ordinance went into effect in East Point on Thursday, July 9, requiring the use of facial coverings or face masks in commercial establishments, restaurants, retail stores, salons, barber shops, grocery stores and pharmacies.

All establishments subject to the ordinance must post a sign in a clearly visible location near the front entrance notifying the public that per the ordinance, use of a face mask or facial covering is required and that violators are subject to a fine of up to $75.

The ordinance does not apply to religious establishments, though use there is strongly recommended.

RELATED: East Point leads the charge in passing face mask legislation

Other exceptions include in personal vehicles, alone in an enclosed space or with members of their household, during outdoor physical activity as long as proper social distancing is maintained, while eating, drinking or smoking, when a licensed health provider has determined that a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition, when wearing a face covering would prevent receipt of personal services, for residents under the age of 2.

In addition, any person who is unable to safely wear a face covering due to age, underlying health condition(s), or is unable to remove the face covering without the assistance of others is not required to wear a face covering or mask.

Fairburn

Anyone entering a commercial establishment must wear a mask. It does not apply to religious establishments, but is strongly encouraged. 

Anyone who is unable to safely wear a mask because of their age, underlying health conditions, or is unable to remove one without the help of someone else is exempt.

Face masks are not required in the following instances: 

  • While driving a car
  • When a person is in an enclosed space with only members of their household
  • During outdoor physical activity, when proper social distancing is able to be maintained
  • While eating, drinking, smoking in a restaurant, however one must be worn when entering and leaving
  • When a health care provider has wearing a mask aggravatres a health condition 
  • When wearing one would prevent the receipt of personal services
  • When a person is younger than 5 years old

All businesses and establishments the order applies to are expected to post signage clearly. 

Anyone who violates the ordinance is subject to a $25 fine after a first warning.

The ordinance is in effect beginning July 9, and remains in effect while the state of emergency exists. The issuing of citations begins Monday, July 13.

Savannah

The Savannah order, which went into effect on July 1, says that anyone entering a commercial establishment was required to wear a mask or face covering while inside. An exception was made for religious establishments, though mask use there is highly encouraged.

Anyone not complying with the order would be subject to a civil infraction and subject to a $500 fine.

RELATED: Savannah mayor issues executive order requiring masks in the city

According to Savannah NBC station WSAV, exceptions to the ordinance include:

  • In personal vehicles 
  • When a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other household members 
  • During outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains a minimum of 6 feet from other people with whom they do not cohabitate at all times; 
  • While drinking, eating, or smoking 
  • When wearing a face covering causes or aggravates a health condition
  • When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services; 
  • When a person is 10 years of age or younger.

South Fulton

City of South Fulton officials passed an emergency ordinance Jul 9 requiring people to wear masks while in public. The measure takes effect July 11 and will expire in 30 days, unless extended by the council.

Under the ordinance, customers, visitors and delivery persons entering commercial establishments in the city must wear masks or facial coverings. In addition, business owners and managers are required to ensure employees, contractors and other agents wear face coverings when they are involved face-to-face interactions with the public. Business owners can be fined if employees have face-to-face contact with the public without a mask.

The ordinance also applies to people in general – indoors or outside – who are within six feet of others with whom they do not live.

The measure does provide exceptions. It not apply to those 10 years old and younger and those unable to safely wear face coverings because of age, underlying medical conditions or an inability to remove masks without the assistance of others. 

It makes exceptions for when people are in residential homes, personal vehicles and commercial vehicles with others with whom they live. Other exceptions include people in religious and education institutions.

People also are exempt when they are eating, drinking or smoking or when receiving medical or personal services that require the removal of masks.

Penalties for violating the ordinance include a warning for the first offense, with the officer providing a complimentary mask, and a $100 fine for each subsequent violation. The clerk of Municipal Court can dismiss a second-violation case if the person charged demonstrates he or she has a mask.

Union City

Union City's Mayor and Council issued an emergency ordinance requiring all people to wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth in public spaces within the city

Under the ordinance, all people entering a commercial establishment in the City must wear a mask or face covering while inside the establishment. 

All restaurants, retail stores, salons, barbershops, grocery stores, and pharmacies in the City must require all employees to wear a mask or face covering at all times while engaged in face to face interaction with the public.

Any person who is unable to safely wear a mask or face covering due to age, underlying health conditions, or is unable to remove the mask or face covering without the assistance of others is exempt from this Ordinance.

Masks or face coverings are not required in the following circumstances:

  • In personal vehicles;
  • When a person is alone in an enclosed space or only with other household members;
  • During outdoor physical activity, provided the active person maintains proper social distancing at a minimum of six (6) feet from others who are not household members;
  • While eating, drinking, or smoking;
  • When a licensed health provider has determined wearing a mask or face covering causes or aggravates a health condition in the specific individual;
  • When wearing a mask or face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services; and
  • When a person is younger than six years old.

All establishments subject to this Ordinance are required to post a sign in a clearly visible location near the front entrance stating that "Per City Ordinance, All Persons Must Wear a Mask or Face Covering and Violators are Subject to a Fine of up to $75.00."

In addition to this emergency ordinance, Union City will continue to refrain from water service interruption until August 24, 2020. 

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information. 

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.

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