Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Signs a Citywide Mask Mandate (Reports).
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance bottoms signed an executive order Wednesday evening requiring masks to be worn inside commercial businesses, other buildings and spaces open to the public within the city limits, and outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained. However, the order does not detail how the mandate will be enforced or if violators face fines.
Masks are also required inside Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
According to the order, those exempt from wearing masks include people with medical conditions or disabilities prohibiting them from covering their face, children under 10 years old, and people engaged in consuming food and drink or smoking.
“We will continue to take active measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in Atlanta,” Bottoms says in a press release. “Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that wearing a face covering helps slow the spread of this sometimes deadly virus.”
Atlanta joins Savannah, East Point, and Athens in requiring masks in public. The cities of Doraville, South Fulton, Fairburn, College Park, and Hapeville are also considering a similar ordinance.
The move comes following several days of record-breaking numbers in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout the state likely sparked by Georgia’s aggressive reopening. Gov. Brian Kemp has called a statewide mask mandate a “bridge too far,” opting instead to embark on a publicity tour prior to the Fourth of July holiday weekend encouraging residents to don a mask whenever possible.
Kemp’s emergency powers prevent local municipalities from enacting more severe COVID-19 measures. It’s unclear if the governor plans to block or challenge these mask ordinances.
While not a statewide mandate, the city’s mask ordinance could help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety felt by front-of-house employees, like hosts, servers, and bartenders, who may face abusive interactions with diners refusing to wear masks.
Chef Deborah VanTrece requires patrons to wear masks while inside her Westside restaurant, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours. She tells Eater Atlanta people were complying without complaint when the restaurant first reopened in mid-June, but the staff is now beginning to receive pushback from diners on wearing masks. Mostly from men.