Still not wearing a mask? DeKalb County could send you to a COVID-19 prevention class

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DeKalb County took steps to strengthen the mask ordinance it passed last week. The strengthened mask requirement comes as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over Atlanta’s mask mandate.

But DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond says he believes DeKalb County’s ordinance is consistent with Kemp’s executive order.

The measure requires all DeKalb residents over age 8 to wear a face covering or mask which covers the nose and mouth whenever they are in a public place.

Under DeKalb’s mask requirement, first-time violators will be given a written warning. Second-time violators will be required to attend a virtual or in-person COVID-19 prevention class.

According to the ordinance, the purpose of the class is “to understand the public health ramifications of this crisis and appropriate public health responses to mitigate the spread of this disease.”

Failure to attend the class will result in a $250 fine.

The fine can be waived if a resident takes the “conscientious objector” clause in the ordinance. Residents who object to wearing masks can swear in a written affidavit that will be presented in court that they will not wear a mask for health-related, religious, or ethical reasons.

The county will also distribute 20,000 masks to local brick-and-mortar small businesses which agree to implement a “No Mask, No Service” policy.

“We must do everything within our authority to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” Thurmond said. “According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, wearing face coverings or masks, maintaining social distance and washing our hands frequently are the best ways to protect ourselves and the general public.”

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