As business owners in Leon County wrestle with the impact of the county-wide mask mandate, leaders in Valdosta, Georgia recently passed a mask mandate that allows flexibility and relies on individual decisions.
In a 4-3 decision near the end of August, the Valdosta City Council voted in favor of an ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn in public in the city. The mask mandate covers city property and businesses that choose to enforce the mandate.
The mask mandate includes many exceptions. These exceptions include people who are eating or drinking, people who have difficulty putting on or taking off face coverings without assistance, those with religious objections, and those with medical reasons to not wear face coverings.
Private businesses can be exempt from the mandate along with corporations and non-profits. The requirement is that businesses not participating must display a warning on public entrances. The display must state that the location does not consent to the city ordinance and is not enforcing any face-covering requirement.
Enforcement of the city ordinance includes a $50 fine after a warning is given to an individual. Notably, business owners or businesses themselves cannot be fined for customers that fail to comply with the ordinance.
Valdosta qualified for the mask mandate because Lowndes County met the threshold of 100 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people over the previous 14 days.
The ordinance comes after Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson started a virtual campaign that encouraged all citizens to wear masks in order to fight COVID-19.
Last month, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp passed an executive order that allows municipalities to mandate face-covering if they meet certain metrics.
Under Governor Brian Kemp’s order, the mandate must be removed when Lowndes County no longer meets the threshold.