Statesboro City Council approved tonight an ordinance requiring the use of mask or face covering in public during the COVID-19 outbreak. Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar immediately signed the ordinance after the vote to approve.
Based on Scientific Data and Medical Advice
Frank Davis, M.D., a retired trauma surgeon who now lives in Bulloch County has become a vocal advocate for the mitigation of COVID-19. Dr. Davis made a presentation at the council work session prior to the council meeting. He reviewed current data for Bulloch County. He also explained the increased concern with the return of Georgia Southern University students to the city and local schools returning.
Area hospitals are being stretched by the increase in extremely sick COVID-19 patients. A surge in positive cases would continue to exacerbate an already overloaded health care system. Based on these concerns, Dr. Davis strongly recommended a mandatory mask ordinance.
In addition to Dr. Davis’s presentation, city staff presented data from other cities and states that have seen a significant drop of positive COVID-19 cases since implementing mask mandates.
Governor Kemp clears the way
Governor Kemp’s August 15th executive order opened the door for local governments to enact local mask requirements.
The ordinance will be in force as long as COVID-19 cases exceed 100 cases per 100,000 for a 14-day period per data from the Georgia Department of Health for Bulloch County or in 90 days, whichever is first. Currently Bulloch County is at 357 cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days.
The ordinance always requires facial covering or mask over the mouth and nose where other physical distancing measure may be difficult to maintain.
Exceptions to the ordinance:
- In personal vehicles or in your home
- When alone in enclosed spaces or only with other household members
- Bona fide religious objection to wearing a facial covering or mask
- While drinking or eating
- When a licensed healthcare provider has determined that wearing a facial covering or mask causes or aggravates a health condition for the individual or when such person has a bona fide medical reason for not wearing a facial covering or mask.
- When wearing a facial covering or mask would prevent the receipt of personal services or performing work in the course of employment
- When complying with the directions of a law enforcement officer or for the purposes of verifying a person’s identity, such as when purchasing alcohol, tobacco, or prescription drugs or engaging in a financial transaction.
- Children under the age of 10
- When the individual is having difficulty donning or removing a face mask or face covering without assistance
- At any polling place and no individual shall be denied ingress or egress to or from a polling place for failure to wear a facial covering or mask
- When outdoor and maintaining social distancing from anyone other than individual with whom they cohabitate
Businesses must post signage notifying customers if they choose not to comply
While most local businesses in the city do require mask already, the Governors order allows business owners to not require mask inside their business. If a business chooses not to comply with the mask requirement, they must post signage alerting customers that they are NOT to comply with this ordinance.
The business should post a clearly legible sign in one-inch Arial font at all public entrances of such entity stating the following: “THIS LOCATION DOES NOT CONSENT TO ENFORCEMENT OF ANY LOCAL FACE COVERING REQUIREMENTS UPON THIS PROPERTY.”
Citizens not complying with the ordinance will first receive a warning. After a warning they will be fined no more than $25 for the first offense and no more than $50 for each additional violation.
Bulloch County Postpones mask decision
Bulloch County Commissioners met this morning for their regular meeting. Local citizens and business owners made an appeal for a county wide mask mandate. Commissioner Curt Deal asked that a decision be postponed until September. That would give the commission more time to “study” the issue.