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Atlanta Mayor Issues Indoor Mask Mandate Due to CDC Guidance and Increase in COVID-19 Cases

On July 28, 2021, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an indoor mask mandate via executive order that requires “all persons in an entity or a public place [to] wear a facial covering or mask over the mouth and nose at all times when indoors.” “Entity” is defined as “any private business, establishment, corporation, non-profit corporation, or organization.”

Mayor Bottoms issued the executive order “in response to the rising number of COVID-19 infections [and] the impact of the Delta variant,” as well as recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that recommends individuals wear masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. According to the CDC, the city of Atlanta is currently in an area of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.

The order applies to all persons, even those who are vaccinated. The order also sets forth several exceptions to the indoor mask mandate. Under the order, “[f]acial coverings or masks are not required in the following circumstances”:

  • “[i]n personal vehicles or on residential property”;

  • “[w]hen a person is alone in enclosed spaces or only with other members of the same household”;

  • when an individual “has a bona fide religious objection to wearing a facial covering or mask”;

  • “[w]hile drinking or eating”;

  • “[w]hen a licensed healthcare provider has determined that wearing a facial covering or mask causes or aggravates a health condition”;

  • when an individual has a “bona fide medical reason for not wearing a facial covering or mask”;

  • when an individual “cannot don or remove a face mask or face covering without undue assistance”; and

  • “[a]t any polling place.”

The order specifically exempts all children under 10 years of age.

An individual who violates the order will initially be given a warning. Further violations may result in civil penalties of not more than $25 for a first offense and not more than $50 for any subsequent offense. City of Atlanta law enforcement and code enforcement officers will make “every reasonable effort … to bring an individual into voluntary compliance with the terms of [the] Order prior to [the] issuance of any notice of violation.”

The order also states that entities will not be subject to fines or other actions for violations that occur on their premises. Only individuals can be issued fines for violations.

The order also closes all City of Atlanta facilities to the public, with the exception of the Municipal Court of Atlanta, Lakewood Amphitheater, and Chastain Amphitheater.

© 2023, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 218

About this Author

Luke Donohue, Ogletree Deakins, Legal Compliance Lawyer, Equal Pay Act attorney

Luke Donohue represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including matters brought under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Equal Pay Act, and other federal and state laws. He also represents employers before various administrative agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In addition, Mr. Donohue has experience reviewing and drafting employee handbooks and policies, focusing...