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.