Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has issued a promised executive order requiring everyone to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth in public places in the city and at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The order, issued July 8, also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 persons on city property unless they live together or are engaged in businesses or activities exempted by an existing state emergency order.

Bottom’s order defies executive orders issued by Gov. Brian Kemp that only encourages the wearing of masks. Savannah, Athens, East Point, and Doraville have already issued their own orders requiring masks.

“We will continue to take active measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 infections in Atlanta,” Bottoms said in a press release. “Public health experts overwhelmingly agree that wearing a face covering helps slow the spread of this sometimes deadly virus.”

Bottoms previously said she recently tested positive for COVID-19.

The order extends to individuals inside commercial entities or other buildings or spaces open to the public; outdoor public spaces; and wherever it is not feasible to maintain appropriate social distancing from another person not in the same household.

The order does not apply to people who:

  • are younger than 10 years old;
  • have a medical condition or disability that prevents the wearing of a mask or face covering;
  • are consuming food or drink, or are smoking;
  • are in a personal motor vehicle;
  • are obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the mask or face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face or head, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal;
  • are in a swimming pool;
  • are voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election;
  • are speaking for broadcast or to an audience.

The city plans to provide face coverings to the general public through funding under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The face coverings will be available at the airport, homeless partners’ facilities and shelters, and food pickup locations. The Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department will also work with community partners on the distribution of face coverings to Atlanta residents.

Bottoms had announced the pending order earlier on July 8 on an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

View the entire executive order online here.

–John Ruch contributed

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.