Decatur City Council passes face mask wearing resolution, says could become mandatory

The resolution also mentions Decatur businesses

Posted: Jun 29, 2020 7:58 PM
Updated: Jun 30, 2020 7:46 AM

The Decatur City Council has passed a resolution that strongly encourages residents "to keep themselves and all citizens safe by wearing facial coverings/masks in public, sanitizing hands and practicing social physical distancing."

The resolution also encourages Decatur businesses to "require people entering their establishments to wear facial coverings/masks, sanitize their hands and practice social/physical distancing,"

The resolution also says that the city may be required to "implement legislation mandating compliance" if cases of coronavirus continue to grow in Morgan County.

However, Tueday night, the council is holding another special meeting to vote on an ordinance. This would propose mandatory mask wearing and a fine up to $500 for not complying. 

The council chose not to vote on this ordinance tonight, so they could have more time to look it over and make adjustments based off what the public had to say. 

In a socially distanced city chamber, the council heard several public statements Monday night and read off emails as well.

"Don't tell me how to live my life, I spent 17 years in the United States Army, defending our people and our constitution and our freedoms," One man said to council members. 

Many of those who showed up were against the ordinance. 

"Really what it boils down to at the end of the day is personal liberty and freedom because where is it going to stop?" One woman asked. 

Councilman Billy Jackson initiated Monday night's special meeting. He said the city is running out of time to take action to help stop the rapid growth of coronavirus cases in Decatur and Morgan County.

"The numbers are out there, and we're doing more testing and realizing there are more numbers out there than we actually realized than we actually think are out there," Jackson said. "It's important that we take precaution."

Jackson said the resolution itself is not enough. However, he hopes it will be a wake up call for people in Decatur. 

There are several exceptions in the current ordinance. It would exempt children 2 years old or younger. You would not have to wear a mask when eating or drinking, during a medical exam or procedure, a hair care service, working out, or at places of worship. 

However, Council President Paige Bibbee said they will continue to adjust the list.

"I think there are special circumstances that we will address in the ordinance that absolutely have merit," Bibbee said. "So I think those need to be worked out."

In order to the pass the ordinance Tuesday night, the vote does not have to unanimous. However if it is, the ordinance will go into effect immediately.

If that does not happen, but there is still a majority vote, it would have to sit through two agenda meetings. 

The ordinance would not apply to school systems. They would have to implement their own face covering policy.

Bibbee said they are in talks with Decatur Police on the best way to implement the ordinance.

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