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VERIFY: No, it is not legal to hide your identity with a mask in Georgia

There are several exceptions, including masking up for COVID-19, wearing Halloween costumes, or sports helmets.

MACON, Ga. — Recently, we introduced you to a scare actor haunting the parking lot and aisles of the Gray Highway Walmart.

Trey Gerald's spooky looks have sparked a lot of questions, including whether his whole act is legal. We set out to verify.

Our sources are Major Brad Wolfe with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia Code.

"About two weeks ago, I heard somebody mention in passing that there was a clown at Walmart scaring people, or someone dressed up as a clown," Major Wolfe said.

That clown, named Buzzsaw, played by aspiring scare actor Trey Gerald. That Walmart, on Gray Highway.

"I didn't think much about it, because we hadn't gotten any calls about it. Then, I heard more people talk about it and saw it on social media," Major Wolfe said.

That's how many of us found out about Gerald's appearances around town. Some shoppers worried about whether the whole thing is legal. That's a tough answer.

"He's not breaking any laws doing what he's doing. Normally, in the state of Georgia, if you're over 17, you can't wear a mask," Major Wolfe explained. "With the pandemic, it's a little hard to determine. The way his face paint looks, if it were a mask, of course, that would be illegal."

Yes, it's illegal to wear a mask. According to the Georgia Code, you can't wear a mask, hood or other device, 'by which any portion of his or her face is so hidden,' to intentionally conceal your identity. This applies to public and private property.

With the pandemic, lawmakers amended that law in 2021. Masking up to protect yourself from COVID-19 isn't breaking the law. There's also several other exceptions to the rule, including Halloween or other holidays, sports, theater and gas masks.

In this case, here's Major Wolfe's answer: "Might be something we might could do something about if we really feel the need to. He's not, that I know of, he hasn't hurt anybody," Major Wolfe said.

The penalty, Major Wolfe says, is probably just a ticket, and to ask him to stop for the night.

"At most we might ask him to cease and desist for a while," Major Wolfe said.

So we can verify that no, it is not legal to wear a mask to hide your identity in Georgia.

Gerald told us he'll be taking a break until it gets closer to Halloween to rest up for his job at a haunted house this fall. So, you probably won't see Buzzsaw the Clown or Jangles the Jester, his other character, any time soon.

We asked the store manager at the Gray Highway Walmart if the store has any policies against Gerald's actions. She declined to comment.

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