Correction: This story incorrectly reported the date of the City Council where the mask-wearing ordinance vote was held. The meeting was held Aug. 20.
Mask-wearing is now required in Sandy Springs’ public places – and can be enforced inside consenting businesses – under a mayoral order that the City Council intends to replace with a formal ordinance at a special called meeting Aug. 20.
Mayor Rusty Paul issued an executive order Aug. 18 mandating the mask-wearing, among other provisions. He issued his order after Gov. Brian Kemp issued his own executive order on Aug. 15 that allowed local governments to mandate wearing masks in public. Kemp’s order enables cities in counties where the threshold of COVID-19 confirmed cases is above 100 per 100,000 to require face masks.
The City Council decided during its Aug. 19 meeting that it wanted a city ordinance mandating masks rather than just an executive order. So the city’s legal staff will write a proposed ordinance based on a draft by the Georgia Municipal Association.
The council will meet to vote on the ordinance on Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Paul’s executive order remains in effect.
In making his request for an ordinance, Councilmember Andy Bauman said he wanted a mandate because city residents overwhelmingly have asked for it. Following the ordinance adoption process will give city residents an opportunity to voice their opinions before its adoption.
Public comment must be made no later than noon the day of a meeting by using the public comment form on the city’s website at http://www.sandyspringsga.gov/government/public-meetings-calendar.
Under the executive order and the forthcoming ordinance, residents and visitors in Sandy Springs must wear masks — with some exemptions for health and activities — in public places and public buildings. The ordinance also can be enforced in private commercial properties where the owners consent to enforcement.
The city cannot mandate that private businesses require customers to wear face masks. But the business owners or managers can make it a requirement for anyone entering their businesses. And if they do, the business can call the Sandy Springs Police Department if a customer refuses to wear a mask.
Police Chief Kenneth DeSimone said officers would not patrol for face mask violations. They would deal with it much like they do when a customer refuses to wear a shirt or shoes inside a business and becomes unruly or starts an altercation.
“If a store has a problem, they’ll call us and we’ll go deal with it then,” DeSimone said.
What the city can do with any business that decides not to comply with the city’s request in adopting their own mask mandate is to require the business to post a sign that says, “Masks not required.” This will alert those customers who are at risk or are concerned about their health that the risks may be higher in those businesses.
“I think that there are a lot of businesses out there that agree with this,” Councilmember Jody Reichel said.
Paul said taking that step will give businesses an opportunity to deflect pushback against a face mask requirement inside their businesses because they can say they are complying with the city’s request made in the mask mandate ordinance.