Columbus mayor suspends mask ordinance enforcement

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson has suspended enforcement of the city’s COVID-19 mask ordinance effective May 20 at noon, according to a news release. Anyone entering city buildings or courtrooms are still required to wear masks.

Ordinance No. 20-043, requiring masks be worn in public places, was made possible by an Aug. 15, 2020 executive order signed by Gov. Brian Kemp. The order allowed for mask mandates when COVID-19 cases in a community were above 100 per 100,000 people. Because Columbus has now dipped below that threshold, Henderson has suspended enforcement of the ordinance.

In the release, Henderson advises “Business owners should continue to follow all employee and customer health and safety regulations set forth in Governor Kemp’s Executive Order and should encourage all customers to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

“The Mayor also continues to encourage all business owners and customers to follow the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations on social distancing.”

“Despite this suspension of enforcement of face covering rules in public places and businesses, all persons entering buildings owned by the Consolidated Government of Columbus, Georgia or designated courtrooms shall be required to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

“All citizens of Columbus who have not been vaccinated are strongly encouraged to continue to wear a mask when they cannot socially distance.”

This is not the first time Henderson has suspended the mask mandate. Back in October 2020, Henderson suspended the mandate because case numbers dipped below the state-designated threshold.

The executive order was first enforced in Columbus back in August 2020 under an emergency order as COVID-19 cases began to rise in the city. The order went into effect on Aug. 21 with a fine of $50 for violations.

Because enforcement has been suspended and the ordinance remains on the books, it is possible to reinstate enforcement of the order in the future should cases rise above the threshold, as Henderson has done in the past.

As of May 18, in Columbus, 14,540 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 409 have died, according to the latest Department of Public Health report.

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