Atlanta mayor resumes mask mandate due to spikes in COVID-19 omicron infections

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued an executive order to reinstate the citywide indoor mask mandate.

The order is in response to the rising number of COVID-19 infections and the impact of the Omicron variant. Masks must be worn in all public buildings, including inside private businesses.

The mayor’s office announced on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that the city will back to the Yellow Zone. The “COVID-19 Resilience Plan” tracks the pandemic’s status in the city — from worst to best — by referring to red, yellow, green and blue zones.

“The CDC has designated Fulton and DeKalb counties as areas of high transmission for the COVID-19 virus. Given this recent surge across the Atlanta area, and based upon the counsel from public health professionals, I am reinstating the citywide mask mandate,” said Bottoms in a statement.

“We are watching the data daily and will continue to engage experts for guidance on how best to provide for the safety and wellbeing of our communities.”

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But Katie Byrd, Gov. Brian Kemp’s spokeswoman, criticized the mayor’s order in a statement.

”These mandates only create division and unnecessarily divert critical resources. Governor Kemp is fully vaccinated and boosted, and he will continue to urge Georgians to talk with their doctor about the benefits of getting the vaccine or receiving their booster shot. Ultimately, he feels that we must trust our citizens to do what’s right for themselves and their families,” said Byrd.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, a distinguished professor of infectious diseases at Emory University, recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the omicron variant “is really, really concerning.”

“If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you may get infected but you’re hopefully going to do OK. You’re not going to get sick, you’re not going to end up in the hospital,” he said. “But if you aren’t vaccinated, this thing is going to find you. This is really very infectious.”

If someone violating the order refuses or fails to comply after being given a warning by a city officer, the person may be subject to a $25 fine and $50 fines for subsequent offenses, according to the order signed off by Bottoms.

Bottoms lifted the mandate last month, but her decision to reinstate it comes hours after Mayor-elect Andre Dickens tested positive for the new variant Monday night.