Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments have begun to ease restrictions on mask wearing, and on May 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks indoors in certain situations. The Reporter checked in with several local governments to see which mask-wearing mandates and other COVID-19 protocols are still in place and which have been lifted.
Dunwoody’s mask mandate, which had been in effect for nearly a year, was officially lifted on May 14.
The city initially passed a face mask ordinance in August of 2020 to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and has periodically renewed the ordinance since. The most recent renewal occurred in November of 2020, and was set to expire by May 30.
At a May 10 Dunwoody City Council meeting, Mayor Lynn Deutsch announced that if the number of positive COVID-19 cases dropped below DeKalb County’s “threshold requirement” – which is 100 confirmed cases for every 100,000 people over a period of 14 days –before May 30, the mask ordinance would end.
As of May 13, that number of cases has dropped to exactly 100, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. According to an emailed message from Mayor Lynn Deutsch, as of May 14, the mask ordinance has ended.
In the statement, Deutsch said businesses and organizations have “the right and responsibility” to continue to decide for their own properties whether they will require masks for entry.
“This phase of the pandemic may be the most confusing of all,” she said in the email. “I ask that you continue to give local businesses and each other the space and grace to navigate this time.”
City spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher previously said if the number of cases per 100,000 people rises again, the council will discuss whether or not to renew the ordinance again at its May 24 meeting.
Boettcher said as far as mask-wearing in City Hall goes, the city is currently reviewing procedures based on the new CDC recommendations along with rules for Georgia’s courts, since there is a Municipal Court inside City Hall. She said she did not have a timeline for how long that review would take or any other information to share.
Dunwoody has already resumed in-person City Council meetings with virtual options for attendance.
Sandy Springs is following CDC guidelines for its employees, said Dan Coffer, city spokesperson.
“If they’re fully vaccinated, we’re not going to require employees to wear masks. We encourage it, but we’re not going to require it. If you’re not, we still do encourage them to wear a mask,” he said.
Residents attending outdoor events such as the Farmer’s Market are not required to wear masks or social distance, but are encouraged to do so.
City Hall had been open only for in-person appointments for permits and revenue and public meetings, Coffer said. The gas crisis caused when Colonial Pipeline shut down operations led the city to shift all employees except first responders to work virtually through next week.
“We’ll still have virtual City Hall in terms of staff. They’ll still work from home,” he said.
In-person public meetings will resume next week including City Council’s budget workshop and regular meeting, the Planning Commission and the Charter Review Commission. Virtual participation will be available.
The Farmer’s Market will open at the City Green at 1 Galambos Way from 8:30 a.m.-noon on Saturday.
In-person Municipal Court is canceled Monday through Thursday and virtual court will take place on Friday. Additional virtual court opportunities will be available for those who wish to handle their case virtually rather than rescheduling an in-person date. In-person sessions on May 24.
At its May 4 City Council meeting, Brookhaven extended its COVID-19 state of emergency order, with a few changes. With this order, the city lifted its ban on public gatherings on city property, which had been in place since March of 2020. Many updates to the local order mirror Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest COVID-19 safety order.
According to that COVID-19 order, the city’s mandate to wear masks indoors in all of the city of Brookhaven will expire on June 1 if not extended. The city’s outdoor mandate to wear a mask on city property expired May 1.
According to the order, Brookhaven is still encouraging restaurants to have staff wear masks, even if they have been vaccinated.
Brookhaven’s Municipal Court resumed in-person sessions on Feb. 1 with safety procedures such as temperature checks and symptom screenings in place before entering the building. Those inside are required to wear face masks at all times.
The Brookhaven City Council and other commissions and committees are still holding virtual meetings.
According to a MARTA spokesperson, the transit authority will continue to follow federal requirements for transportation systems. On April 30, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended face mask requirements across United States transportation networks through Sept. 13.