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ACC Commissioner on Mask Mandate

Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP

During Tuesday's Commission meeting, Athens-Clarke County Commissioners voted to require masks inside building inside city limits. District 7 Commissioner Russell Edwards explains what the ordinance requires and exemptions to the rule.

“All persons entering a commercial establishment must wear a face covering or mask while inside, all restaurants, retail stores, salons, grocery stores and pharmacies must requite their employees to wear a face covering,” according to Edwards. “Any person who is unable to safely wear a face covering due to age and underlying health condition is exempt from the ordinance.”

Commissioners allowed several additional exclusions to the regulation.

“Finally, face coverings are required in personal vehicles, when a person is alone, or only with other household members, during outdoor physical activities, as long as they maintain six feet of social distance. While drinking, eating or smoking, not required. When wearing one causes or aggravates a health condition. When wearing a face covering would prevent the receipt of personal services such as dental work or when a person is ten years of age or younger.”

Edwards says recent numbers in both the state and locally have spiked, and that increase is taxing local medical resources.

“We just found out that [Athens] Piedmont Regional has no more COVID beds,” Edwards said. “They have 27 COVID patients, they have seven COVID patients in the ICU. St. Mary’s Hospital has eight COVID patients, two in the ICU. 17 out of 18 of their ICU beds are occupied.”

Penalties for not wearing face coverings are $25 for the first fine, $50 for the second and $100 for each subsequent violation. The mandate goes against Governor Kemp’s Executive Order prohibiting local governments from enforcing harsher restrictions than enacted at the state level.

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