Mayor Andre Dickens announced the City of Atlanta is lifting the indoor mask mandate and other restrictions in place since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In a press release, the mayor’s office said while it was lifting the indoor mask mandate, it would still require face coverings at public meetings and programs in city facilities.

The city also said that public agencies, including Invest Atlanta, Atlanta Housing, and Atlanta BeltLine, would resume in-person meetings. The AJC reported earlier this week that the Atlanta City Council planned to hold its first in-person meeting in more than two years on March 7.

The moratorium on residential evictions and filings for housing units and developments sponsored or funded by Atlanta Housing Authority, Atlanta BeltLine Inc., Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority, Invest Atlanta, Partners for Home, and the City of Atlanta’s Department of Grants and Community Development remains in effect.

“Advances in life-saving vaccines, downward trends in cases and—most importantly—the vigilance and resilience of the Atlanta community have all brought us to this new space of hope,” Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement. “As we continue to rely on data and science, Atlanta remains forever grateful for our public health professionals, our healthcare workers and our frontline workers who continue to give their all so that we may begin this optimistic path toward our new normal.”

In the press statement, the city also said it has updated its HVAC and air circulation system to address airborne particles and improve air quality in City Hall.

Modifications are also also being made at city facilities that are open to the public with plans to resume rental of city facilities and activities for seniors, young people, businesses and the community over the next few months — provided the downward trend in COVID-19 cases continue.

Atlanta Public Schools also announced late Friday that it would move to a “mask-optional protocol” on March 1. On Feb. 28, APS lifted the mask-mandate on school buses, too.

“APS recognizes that some students and staff may prefer to continue wearing a mask indoors, and we support this decision. APS schools and offices will continue to have masks available for students and staff who may need them,” a statement on the APS website said.

APS is also removing the mandatory testing requirement for students participating in athletics and  extracurricular activities and shifting mandatory testing for employees from twice-weekly to once per week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Friday saying more than 70 percent of Americans can remove their masks indoors, including inside schools.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.