City council enacts face mask mandate

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By Shelia Tomkins

In an effort to mitigate the local spread of COVID-19, the Guttenberg city council on Nov. 9 unanimously passed a resolution mandating the use of face coverings in public places within the city limits.

The resolution was placed on the agenda after the city received a letter from Dr. Michele Dikkers, chair of the Clayton County Board of Health and a family physician, who cited an alarming rise in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county. She asked the city to ask all businesses to wear masks.

Two local physicians, Dr. Andrew Smith and Dr. Jeff Hoffmann, addressed the council electronically to urge passage of the mask mandate. Dr. Smith spoke of the strain currently placed on the local hospital and healthcare workers by the large increase in cases. “The only preventative that we have right now is that people wear masks,” said Dr. Hoffmann. “Otherwise it will overtake our hospital and overtake our school. It shows respect and caring for other people.”

The resolution mandates that all persons wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth when inside a business building or in a public space.  Businesses must require that all workers wear a face mask when in any area open to the public or within six feet of another person. Customers are required to wear a mask before entering a business and must wear it until exiting. Social distancing protocols of at least six feet should be practiced whenever feasible.

The resolution lists some exceptions to the order, including children two years of age or younger, people who are eating or drinking, those with medical issues, and participants in youth sports. 

Face coverings are required in outdoor situations where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. The resolution states that a face covering should have a snug fit, completely cover the nose and mouth, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction and can be laundered.

Businesses open to the public should post signs instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering.

The resolution is intended to be educational and not punitive. It provides for a verbal warning for a first offense, written warning for a second offense, and a $10 fine to all subsequent offenses.

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