Mayor & Commission Approve Mask Requirement for Indoor Spaces - Effective as of Wed., Aug. 4
At their Regular Session meeting on Tuesday, August 3, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission approved an ordinance for the 20th declaration of a local state of emergency related to COVID-19.
Section 3 of the ordinance includes an indoor mask requirement for all persons when they are in a public space or an entity (private businesses, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization).
The requirement will be enforced when confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the previous seven days is equal to or greater than 100 cases per 100,000 people according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or until the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reports a vaccination rate of 80% of the Athens-Clarke County population.
For reference, as of Tuesday, August 3, the CDC shows a seven day case rate of 147.28 per 100,000 and DPH shows a vaccination rate of 43% with at least one dose and 40% fully vaccinated.
Facial coverings or masks are not required in the following circumstances:
- (1) In personal vehicles or upon residential property;
- (2) When a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other household members;
- (3) When the individual has a bona fide religious objection to wearing a facial covering or mask;
- (4) While drinking or eating;
- (5) When a licensed healthcare provider has determined that wearing a facial covering or mask causes or aggravates a health condition for the individual or when such person has a bona fide medical reason for not wearing a facial covering or mask;
- (6) When wearing a facial covering or mask would prevent the receipt of personal services or performing work in the course of employment;
- (7) When complying with the directions of a law enforcement officer or for the purposes of verifying a person's identity, such as when purchasing alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs or when engaging in a financial transaction;
- (8) Children under the age of 10;
- (9) When the individual is having difficulty donning or removing a face mask or face covering without assistance;
- (10) At any polling place and no individual shall be denied ingress or egress to or from a polling place for failure to wear a facial covering or mask; and
Every entity subject to the ordinance that does not consent to enforcement of the ordinance upon its property shall post a clearly legible sign in one inch Arial font at all public entrances stating: "This location does not consent to enforcement of any local face covering requirement upon this property."
If an entity does not post the signage described, it shall be conclusively presumed to have consented to enforcement of this ordinance on its property. Failures by individuals to wear facial coverings or masks as required by this ordinance shall be determined to be violations and enforced.
Violations of Section 3 may be enforced by a notice of ordinance violation issued by any police officer, code enforcement officer, or other authorized law enforcement official, as provided below:
- (1) A person who fails to comply shall be first given a warning and an opportunity to put on a facial covering or mask, leave the entity, or comply with one of the exceptions.
- (2) If the person violating the ordinance refuses or fails to comply after being given a warning, then such person may be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $25.00 on the first offense and not more than $50.00 on the second and any subsequent offenses.
- (3) A notice of violation may be served by delivery into the hands of the suspected violator or by other reasonable process for serving notice of ordinance violations used by Athens-Clarke County.
- (4) Violations of the ordinance shall not be enforced against any entity and shall not be taken against any owner, director, officer, or agent of an entity for the failure of their customers to comply with this ordinance.
- (5) Notwithstanding the foregoing, every effort shall be made to bring an individual into voluntary compliance with the terms of this ordinance prior to issuance of any notice of violation, including providing complimentary masks, explaining the importance of wearing facial coverings during this pandemic, and issuing verbal and written warnings.
In all locations where facial coverings or masks are not required to be worn pursuant to this ordinance, they are strongly encouraged to be worn.