D200711 mask ordinance

Mayor Tab Bowling puts on a face mask Friday as the City Council meets again at Decatur City Hall to vote on an ordinance regarding face masks. The ordinance passed 4-1, and Bowling signed it. [DAN BUSEY/DECATUR DAILY]

Mayor Tab Bowling signed off this morning on an ordinance requiring face coverings in specified public settings after the Decatur City Council approved the temporary measure, which will take effect Monday at 5 p.m.

City Attorney Herman Marks said the controversial ordinance takes effect one day after it’s Sunday publication.

The ordinance approved 4-1 at today’s called council meeting included one change from the ordinance initially approved Wednesday.  Councilwoman Kristi Hill cast the lone no vote. After a lengthy discussion, the mayor and council agreed to include language that the first violation will result in a warning by police, which will be recorded in Municipal Court.

Subsequent citations would put the alleged violator before Municipal Court Judge Billy Cook, who would have discretion to fine the person up to $500 if found guilty.

City Attorney Herman Marks said the ordinance will go into effect one day after it’s published in a newspaper. 

The council had approved the ordinance Wednesday, but procedural problems with the vote led them to vote again this morning. Bowling on Wednesday had said he would delay the maximum 10 days before deciding whether to sign or veto the ordinance.

The ordinance includes some exceptions, but it generally requires face coverings inside businesses and venues open to the general public, in city government buildings, and in bars and restaurants except while eating or drinking. Face coverings are also required while people are using public transit, taxis and ride-sharing services.

Face coverings are only required in outdoor areas where 10 or more people are gathered and they are not able to maintain a 6-foot distance between people of different households.

Children age 2 and under are not required to wear a face covering, and parents have discretion for children 8 and under. Face coverings can be removed when necessary during medical procedures and hair care services. The coverings also are not required if masks create a health or safety risk.

The ordinance does not apply to places of worship, indoor athletic facilities or voting centers. It does not apply to private clubs and gatherings where a 6-foot distance is maintained between people of different households.

The ordinance does not exclude schools, although during debate some council members said it was their understanding the ordinance would not impact schools. The ordinance does include an exception "for people speaking to a large group of people ... provided the speaker can stay at least 6 feet away from other persons."

This story will be updated.

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bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.

(13) comments

Bobbie Carden

Well I won't be doing any shopping or dining, etc. in Decatur. What a stupid ordinance. Trampling on people's freedoms for political gain. Sickening. I hope this hurts Decatur's revenue so they will see what a dumb idea this is.

jAMES burnside

Amen ! to terri!

Terrie Savage

It's a matter of public health. What is sad, is that the city was forced to pass a city ordinance to require people to wear mask. Respect the lives of others! It may be your own life your saving. Churches will not practice social distancing and should be required to wear mask too! Just wear your mask everyone or stay home. If we don't get this pandemic under control there will be no economy to worry about. Let's work together Alabama because you cannot count on Governor Ivey or GOP leaders in the State to do the right thing!

Sam Cat

No ordinance is needed. This is soooo simple. If you are concerned for your safety then STAY HOME. If you leave the house then you are not that concerned so quite complaining.

Jon McAfee



Mr. Kirby to the Mayor, I'd like honest disclosure where these changes are coming from. Mayor, They are coming from me. Mr. Kirby, No they aren't. What a joke. Why doesn't Mr. Kirby and Ms. Bibbee run for Mayor? Watch the meeting on WAAY online.

Michael Pollick

Yeah, the no smoking ordinance was gonna be the downfall of the city. Revenue would drop, businesses would suffer, everyone would suffer, no enforcement, yadda, yadda, yadda. That was in 2007. Decatur is still here and still growing. Shop somewhere else. Go right ahead. Athens is considering the same thing, and if the Governor signs a statewide mandate, well, go to Tennessee. I don't think they have one yet.

And as far as legal challenges go, doubtful. The US Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts that requiring masks for the cause of public health was not unconstitutional and not a violation of civil/personal liberties.

Man up and mask up. Please.

Chuck Johns

Virtue signalling will not protect you. I'll spend my money elsewhere.



Kenneth Richards


Chuck Johns

We went from "15 days to slow the spread" to "wear a mask or go to jail" real quick. Petty politicians.

Chuck Johns

What is the point ???? It's obvious to anyone that can think for themselves that this ordinance has NOTHING to do with health. So you can get infected OUTDOORS if you're less than six feet apart, but not if you're at the gym ? Or church ? And taking it off for a haircut ?? The city of decatur (lowercase intended) can't keep speeding dumptrucks on residential streets in check. How do they expect to enforce this ? I suspect this will blow up in their face either through legal challenge or drop in sales tax revenue. If anyone thinks this is a stupid ordinance, shop somewhere else !

jAMES burnside

Plus court costs ,got to think about this some more1

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