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People in Athens talk about issues with possible mask ordinance

Right now, there is no mask ordinance in Athens.

Posted: Jul 11, 2020 11:03 PM
Updated: Jul 12, 2020 5:36 PM

Just this week, Athens city leaders discussed whether or not the city should follow in the footsteps of fellow north Alabama cities and adopt a masking ordinance.

This comes as Limestone county had its first confirmed coronavirus-related death Tuesday.

WAAY-31 spoke with several people who said it's a decision divided solely because of people's morals.

Some people said they are for a mask mandate and some, aren't fans but most worry it'll affect businesses in a negative way.

"People will take it. They can take it in a way where they'll get scared and they won't go out or they'll take it in a way as protection or in a good way," said Mohamed Alshaif.

Mohamed Alshaif told us right now, since it's not required of him to wear a mask in the city... he doesn't.

On the square Saturday night a crowd gathered for a car show.

People were social distancing and few had masks on.

But several people, like Chuck Gibbs told us it's because when there's outdoor events you shouldn't have to wear them.

"It's outside. You can do your physical distancing and all," he said.

He and his friend John Aufderhar showed off their cars... but in the back of their minds they were thinking about the effects an ordinance would have on businesses.

They fear people who refuse to wear masks will ultimately refuse to shop local.

"If it's a non-essential item, that you need, you may not go there just because of that," said Aufderhar.

Thursday was the first time Athens city council first brought up the idea, and we were told they still have more to discuss on it.

But the city of Decatur and Madison county have already adopted an ordinance.

Madison county's is already in effect, while Decatur's is set to begin on Monday.

But, people do agree, if masking is what it takes to keep the economy going and avoid another state-wide shutdown...it may just be worth it.

"If this masking thing will prevent that from happening, that'll be good. Instead of closing down businesses and affecting people's jobs and what they rely on... That's not right," said Alshaif.

It could be days or weeks before we hear anything new with the masking order...and because the division of opinions is so strong, Athens city council wants to weigh all options.

Some people told us a few businesses in Athens are turning people away if they do not have masks on... but we do not know the names just yet.

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