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Amid legal fight in Atlanta, more cities pass, ponder mask mandates

Most of DeKalb County is now under a mask mandate. (AJC File/Stephen B. Morton)
Most of DeKalb County is now under a mask mandate. (AJC File/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

More cities in DeKalb County have passed or discussed a mandate on face masks amid a legal battle over similar orders between Atlanta and the state.

The city of Clarkston on Tuesday passed an ordinance requiring residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces and outdoors when they can not socially distance. Anyone in violation of the order will be given a warning and offered a mask if they don’t have one. After that, they can face a $25 fine.

Last week, the Chamblee City Council passed a resolution “urging” residents to wear face coverings in public. The city is currently considering an ordinance that would go a step further and mandate face coverings, with a fine of up for $75 for violating the order. It could be voted on and passed next month.

Most of DeKalb County is now under a mask mandate, after the county passed a similar revised order Tuesday that applies to unincorporated DeKalb. The cities of Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Doraville and Decatur have also implemented mask mandates.

The new rules could put the local governments at odds with the state, however, after Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order explicitly banning local governments from requiring the use of face coverings.

ExploreDeKalb tweaks mask mandate, adds ‘conscientious objector’ carve out

Kemp’s office filed a lawsuit last week against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and her City Council counterparts, accusing them of violating the governor’s executive orders by banning gatherings of more than 10 people on city property and requiring residents and visitors to wear masks.

The parties were scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning but the hearing was postponed after two Fulton County judges recused themselves.

The Georgia Municipal Association filed a brief in support of the city and said roughly 100 of the 537 municipalities with membership in the GMA “have already adopted a policy regarding the wearing of masks in their own public buildings in order to protect their own employees and local citizens.”

Staff reporter Tyler Estep contributed to this report.