City of West Point adopts mask ordinance

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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The West Point City Council called a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss a mask ordinance and passed it unanimously.

Over the weekend, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended an executive order banning large gatherings and instructing the medically fragile to shelter in place until Aug 31.

The order also restricts local governments from issuing mask mandates on private property but allows governments to order masks mandatory on public property.

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The new order opened the doors for the city to consider a mask ordinance.

“Throughout the COVID crisis, I have always taken the stance that I thought masks were important, it just makes sense to me that if I’ve got my face covered, I may be asymptomatic, it would help stop the spread for me and the same goes for other people that may have it,” said Mayor Steve Tramell. “I don’t want to be around somebody who’s coughing or sneezing and would give it to me, and me take it to the rest of my family.”
Councilmembers Sandra Thornton and Jerry Ledbetter shared the same sentiment that they believe masks should be worn, but Ledbetter pointed out that he thought the ordinance was poorly written. “I think this proposed mandate says a whole lot without really saying or doing much of anything,” Ledbetter said. “But I think sometimes in an effort to appear to be doing something constructive and helpful that just about every branch of government ends up doing nothing.”

“If this could save or help one person, or even just a few people, by adding our emphasis to this situation, I think we certainly ought to do it and I believe we can and will,” said Councilman Joe Downs.

The approved ordinance will go in to effect Wednesday, Aug 19 at 5 p.m.

The ordinance states, “The provisions of this Ordinance shall only be enforced in the portions of the city that are located in a county in which the prevalence of confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the previous fourteen (14) days is equal to or greater than one hundred (100) cases per one hundred thousand (100,000) people according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.”

The ordinance outlines several areas where a mask will not be required;

  • In personal vehicles or upon residential property;
  • When a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other household members;
  • When the individual has a 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 when engaging in a financial transaction;
  • Children under the age of ten (10) years;
  • 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; and
  • When outdoors and maintaining social distancing from anyone other than individuals with whom they cohabitate.

Businesses will also be able to opt out of the ordinance provided they 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 requirement upon this property.”

An initial violation of this ordinance will result in a warning and anyone found not complying with the ordinance may be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $25 on the first offense and not more than $50 on the second and subsequent offenses.