Sandy Springs passes formal face mask law

Sandy Springs City Council members passed a face mask law during a special called meeting Thursday. Pictured, a local visitor in Tybee Island walks along a dune crossover to Tybee Island beach with her hand-made face mask after Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order allowing people to exercise outside, with social distancing of at least 6 feet. (AJC Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Sandy Springs City Council members passed a face mask law during a special called meeting Thursday. Pictured, a local visitor in Tybee Island walks along a dune crossover to Tybee Island beach with her hand-made face mask after Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order allowing people to exercise outside, with social distancing of at least 6 feet. (AJC Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

Credit: Stephen B. Morton

With little public discussion, Sandy Springs City Council unanimously passed a face mask law Thursday afternoon. Mayor Rusty Paul issued a temporary directive requiring face masks Tuesday.

The ordinance states face coverings are required in “public spaces,” which it defines as any place other than a personal vehicle or residential property. Business owners can exempt their stores from the requirement by posting a sign that says “This location does not require the use of masks or facial coverings upon this property.”

Those exempt from the ordinance include people with a “bona fide religious objection,” children under 10, and anyone trying to vote. Businesses not visited by members of the public, such as offices, are also exempt.

Sandy Springs’ face mask law will remain in effect until the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases drops below 100 per 100,000 residents. The last reported rate was 179, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, down from a high of 270 in early July.

The ordinance says face masks must cover a person’s nose and mouth.

Cecily Ross, owner of the boutique Veronica’s Attic, said Wednesday that she’s asked shoppers to wear masks for three months but some leave their nose exposed.

“We do kindly ask you to pull up your mask,” she said. “If they say no, we still love you, but you do have to leave my store.”

Tom Mahaffey, president of the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, said he expects most businesses to follow the city’s lead and require masks.

“Most people wear masks already,” he said, adding that the organization supports the city’s decision.

Council members did not discuss how the new law will be enforced. Police Chief Ken DeSimone has said police will not approach people not wearing face masks in places where they are required unless they become unruly and police are called.

On Thursday, local businesses had not reported any incidents with customers since the initial order went into effect, police spokesman Sal Ortega said.

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