DeKalb County issues order requiring masks in public

DeKalb County issues order requiring masks in public

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — If you live or work in DeKalb County, get ready to wear a mask while out in public.

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved CEO Michael Thurmond’s amendments to the mask ordinance originally passed last week.

There are penalties for those who violate the ordinance.

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A written warning will be given for the first violation. Those who violate the order a second time will be required to attend a COVID-19 prevention class online or in-person. Anyone who fails to attend the class will be fined $250.

Stay with Channel 2 Action News at Noon for updates on this developing story.

The county told Channel 2′s Sophia Choi it planned to pass the order, despite the governor saying cities and counties cannot require masks.

DeKalb County said it will help residents and small businesses mask up, handing out 20,000 free masks for small businesses alone.

The county is asking those small businesses to require masks, just as big companies like Walmart and Home Depot are already doing.

“The governor runs the state, so it’s his right to decide first about what he wants to do with all of this,” DeKalb resident Virginia Whidby said.

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With DeKalb sitting in between Gwinnett and Fulton counties, the county says it’s worried about COVID-19 cases going up.

Fulton and Gwinnett both had more than 13,000 cases Monday. DeKalb had fewer cases, with about 9,800.

“The experts say the most effective thing we can do is wear a mask in public,” Thurmond said.

The mask mandate follows other aggressive tactics, like ad campaigns, encouraging people to mask up, along with free mask and sanitizer giveaways.

The DeKalb CEO believes a mandate is valid.

“The ultimate decision will, of course, if it gets to that point, will be the courts,” Thurmond said. “In the words of John Lewis, ‘If it’s so, then we’ll stir up some good trouble.’ But it’ll be good trouble that’s focused on saving lives and keeping us healthy.”

And it’s not just in public, the county wants businesses to require masks too.

“We will provide small businesses masks to give to their customers so that they can serve them,” Thurmond said.

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