Alpharetta rejects face mask mandate

City Council members started discussion on an emergency ordinance that would mandate masks in certain city spaces and allow private businesses to opt-out if they chose to.WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
City Council members started discussion on an emergency ordinance that would mandate masks in certain city spaces and allow private businesses to opt-out if they chose to.WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Alpharetta rejected a mask law Monday that would require the wearing of face masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Council members debated personal rights and those of private businesses as well as the need to protect others from coronavirus as part of the discussion on the proposed new law requiring masks in some city spaces. Private businesses would have been allowed to opt out of the requirement. But in the end, the council voted 4-3 to deny consideration of a mask requirement.

Emails from citizens to the city about a mask requirement were evenly divided in favor and opposed to a new ordinance, Councilman John Hipes said.

“There are some things the government decides to do either temporarily or permanently for the common good,” said Hipes, who wanted a new ordinance.

Councilman Ben Burnett argued the virus has become a way of life with people already wearing masks. People who don’t wear masks are irresponsible, he said, but it’s their right to make a bad decision.

Mayor Pro Tem Donald Mitchell agreed, adding, “It all comes down to freedom and liberty for me.” Mitchell described a mask law as a police enforcement nightmare that would inundate the city’s 911 system with calls.

In North Fulton, the mayors of Sandy Springs and Roswell issued face mask directives last week. Sandy Springs later passed a formal mask law.

Johns Creek City Council members said they might discuss a face mask resolution during their next meeting. Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said Monday he doesn’t support an ordinance and believes voluntary compliance is more effective.

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