Sandy Springs weighs how to enforce face mask law

A bicyclist wears a face mask as he travels along the Atlanta BeltLine in the Old Fourth Ward community in May. Sandy Springs officials are considering a special called meeting this week to vote on a mask law with a directive for private businesses to post special signage if they don’t require face coverings to be worn on their premises.  (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
A bicyclist wears a face mask as he travels along the Atlanta BeltLine in the Old Fourth Ward community in May. Sandy Springs officials are considering a special called meeting this week to vote on a mask law with a directive for private businesses to post special signage if they don’t require face coverings to be worn on their premises. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

A new mask mandate in Sandy Springs left local leaders with questions about how it would be enforced.

Mayor Rusty Paul’s directive on Tuesday requires face masks in public spaces, including private businesses where owners want customers to wear face coverings. Those in private residences or businesses not open to the public, such as office buildings, are exempt.

During a meeting held later in the day, City Council members said they were confused by how Paul’s directive would be enforced.

Police Chief Ken DeSimone told Council that individuals entering private businesses without face masks where the owner requires them would be treated in the same manner as someone who was not wearing a shirt or shoes.

“Basically, that’s up to the restaurant,” DeSimone said. “We don’t take 911 calls if somebody goes into a McDonald’s and doesn’t have a shirt on. That’s up to the business. If the person becomes unruly, then we’ll respond.”

Paul said caution is needed in policing a face mask law. “The emotion around this issue is very intense,” he said. “The last thing you’d want to do is put your officers in the middle of an emotional confrontation.

City Council plans to replace Paul’s order with a formal ordinance at a special called meeting Thursday.

Business owners contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday were supportive of the face mask requirement.

“When I read about the mandate, I could’ve danced for joy,” said Cecily Ross, owner of Veronica’s Attic boutique. “I personally do not go into a store unless they mandate masks. At the end of the day, we want to get kids back into school and we want to get on with normal life. The quicker we wear masks, the quicker we can do that.”

Susan Jasko, a manager at Trader Joe’s in Sandy Spring’s, said the store requires masks and provides them at the entrance. Exceptions are made for customers with a medical condition in which a face covering could be harmful, she said.

“Trader Joe’s nationally is requiring face masks,” Jasko added. “We have a sign at the front door and crew members greet customers with hand sanitizer.”

Paul’s directive requires businesses opting out of requiring face coverings to post a notice saying “Masks Not Required,” but City Councilman Tibby DeJulio suggested stronger language.

“Masks not required against the advice of the city of Sandy Springs or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” DeJulio offered.

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