Tia Lynn Ivey
Masks are now mandatory in public buildings in the city of Madison. The Madison Mayor and City Council met Wednesday morning, Aug. 19 to discuss and vote on the citywide mask mandate. The move comes on the heels of Governor Brian Kemp’s new executive order, signed on August 15, concerning the coronavirus pandemic. While the order stops short of introducing a statewide mask mandate, the order allows certain Georgia cities and counties the ability to mandate masks to be worn in public.
Governor Kemp had previously condemned cities like Atlanta and Athens that passed mask ordinances, even suing the Mayor of Atlanta for superseding the state standards concerning the coronavirus pandemic. After negotiations, Kemp is now partially conceding, allowing for some cities and counties to make their own decisions on mandating masks to be worn in public spaces–but with certain restrictions.
The Governor’s new executive order sets limits on how far cities can go in requiring masks to be worn and which cities are even eligible for mask mandates.
According to the Governor’s new order, which lasts until August 31, mask orders can be passed if a city or county reaches the state’s “Threshold Requirement,” which means a city or county must have 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people over the previous 14-day period.
Kemp’s order also limits the scope of local mask ordinances. According to the order, cities and counties can only require masks to be worn on government-owned property and only private property (businesses) if the owner consents.
The order also stipulates that while individual offenders can be fined for not wearing masks in enforcement zones, penalties cannot be levied against “private business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization. And the owners, directors, officers, or agents of any of the above are not to be held liable for the failure of customers to comply with mask requirements.”
The order also stipulates that citations for violating the mask ordinances can only be given after a first offense warning.
The Governor’s order includes exemptions for individuals. Those exempt from being fined for violating local mask ordinances include people with medical conditions that make it difficult to put on, wear, or take off a mask on their own, people who are eating or drinking, people with religious objections to covering their faces. The order also forbids mask wearing cannot be a requirement for entering a polling place to vote.
To access a copy of the ordinance, visit: madisonga.com (http://www.madisonga.com/DocumentCenter/View/2717/Ordinance-Requiring-Face-Masks).