Sandy Springs supports wearing face masks in resolution

In May, a poll worker in Lawrencevill Rae Gilmer (left) wears a face mask and gloves as she assist a voter during early voting. Sandy Springs approved a resolution July 12 in support of wearing face coverings. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
In May, a poll worker in Lawrencevill Rae Gilmer (left) wears a face mask and gloves as she assist a voter during early voting. Sandy Springs approved a resolution July 12 in support of wearing face coverings. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Sandy Springs City Council has approved a resolution in support of wearing face masks.

In a virtual meeting held Monday, the council agreed on the resolution, but not all agreed that Sandy Springs should go further and issue a face mask mandate. Kemp signed a statewide order last week that explicitly bans cities and counties from enforcing mask mandates. Atlanta and more than a dozen other cities have adopted such requirements and Atlanta is facing a lawsuit from the state seeking to block the city from issuing any orders that go beyond the state’s requirements.

The city of Hapeville also voted to pass a resolution at its meeting Tuesday night, which supports the wearing of masks.

Sandy Springs councilman John Paulson said he doubted a mask law could be enforced. He and councilman Steve Soteres both said they didn’t want to defy Gov. Brian Kemp by passing such a law.

Councilwoman Jody Reichel said that even if the city went against the governor’s order and was sued by the state as Atlanta has been, lives would be saved.

“The resolution doesn’t go far enough for me but I agree 100 percent that we need to encourage people to wear masks at all times,” she said.

At Monday’s meeting, Sandy Springs council members voted to not read public comments from residents on the issue, saying it could take hours. The city clerk received about 52 comments, most expressing an opinion on whether face masks should be mandated or not during the pandemic.

Mayor Rusty Paul told the council that three family members, including his 94-year-old mother, are currently battling the disease. He also said that two close friends who were brothers died on the same day after being diagnosed with the virus.

“I don’t think anything has been more challenging, more stressful, more concerning than the challenge that we are dealing with, with the pandemic today,” he said. “There is a tremendous amount of angst and concern, particularly among the vulnerable population, of which I am one.”

Paul added that he is encouraged by the numbers of people he sees in public wearing masks.

Sandy Springs will also start listing local businesses on the city website that require face masks inside their establishments. The list is to inform people in the community who are concerned about masks where they can go and know to some extent what owners or management is doing to keep it safe from COVID-19.