Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst signed an executive order on July 9 requiring face masks for anyone entering or working in commercial establishments, such as stores, salons and pharmacies.
The requirement is effective 8 a.m. on Friday, July 10, according to the executive order.
Brookhaven follows the lead of some other Georgia cities to require face masks in public places in defiance of Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order that strongly encourages their use.
Kemp’s June 29 executive order encourages face masks rather than requires them, and Kemp has prohibited cities and counties from enacting contradicting orders that would lessen or strengthen COVID-19 regulations beyond the state’s decisions.
However, the city of Savannah became the first municipality to defy the state order on June 30 by mandating masks in public spaces, and Kemp has not yet challenged the ordinance. Cities such as Athens, Atlanta and Doraville soon followed Savannah’s decision.
“The city of Brookhaven has been taking progessive steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, dating back to February,” Ernst said in a press release. “However, with more than 100,000 cases in Georgia, and thousands more being reported everyday, we must take additional steps to ensure the health and well-being of the general public.”
The executive order compares the mask requirement to seat belt laws, vaccination requirements for public school students, and shirt and shoe requirements for customers in restaurants.
According to a July 6 report from the DeKalb County Board of Health about COVID-19 cases, the main ZIP code for Brookhaven has just over 300 cases. The county as a whole has 7,042 reported cases, according to the July 6 report, which is the most recent county report available.
Anyone without a mask in commercial establishments may be fined up to $500, according to the press release. City Manager Christian Sigman said the goal is compliance, not writing tickets, and the communications department is launching an educational campaign about the order.
Face masks are not required in Brookhaven in personal vehicles or private homes; when a person is alone in enclosed spaces; when a person is maintaining 6 feet distance outside while exercising; when drinking or eating; during services such as dental care; or for children 10 years old and under.
Face masks are also not required in religious establishments, but they are “highly recommended,” according to the executive order.
Anyone who cannot safely wear a face mask because of underlying health conditions or age should shelter at home and not go into public spaces, according to the Brookhaven order. That provision echoes the governor’s executive order that requires residents with higher risk for COVID-19 because of age or health conditions to continue to shelter in place, which is effective until July 15.