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LaGrange City Council, West Point City Council to consider mask restrictions after Kemp issues new order

UPDATED: West Point will also hold a city council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday to consider a mask ordinance.


ORIGINAL STORY:

The LaGrange City Council will hold an emergency called meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday to consider imposing face mask-related restrictions after Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order over the weekend.

Kemp had previously opposed local mask mandates and sued the city of Atlanta over its ordinance requiring masks, but recently dropped the lawsuit and issued a new executive order over the weekend.

The order allows local governments to impose a mask requirement on government property. It also allows areas that meet a certain threshold to impose further restrictions, the “Local Option Face Covering Requirement.”

If local governments impose the Local Option Face Covering Requirement, then mask wearing can be enforced against people on private property only if the owner consents. Violators can be charged a maximum $50 fine, but businesses or other organizations cannot be fined. Enforcement is prohibited at residences, and cannot be used against people who are eating or drinking, anyone who has difficulty “donning or removing” a mask without assistance or anyone who has bona fide religious or medical objections to wearing a mask.

Mask wearing also cannot be enforced at polling places, the order says.

In effect, businesses have the choice to require masks, and if they choose to do so, governments that meet the threshold requirement can punish violators.

In order to meet the threshold, a county must have a rate of more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Troup County meets that requirement at 335.2, and, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so do all but two of Georgia’s 159 counties.

“Rather than waiting until next Tuesday [Aug. 25] … we decided to have a called special meeting to discuss,” Mayor Jim Thornton said.

Thornton doesn’t know what the council will decide but said he knew of “several members that are very supportive of doing more.”

The city is also paying close attention to the Georgia Municipal Association, which is working on a model ordinance for local governments to adopt, Thornton said.