The Rome City Commission on Monday night approved an Emergency Order which mandates that face masks be worn at public places within city limits. It became effective at 12:00 am this morning. The mandate is aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, based on recent recommendations from local public health officials.

A vote on a local mask mandate followed commentary from the community and Commissioners both for and against it. The order was approved by a final vote of 7-2. Commissioners that voted in favor were: Mayor Bill Collins, Wendy Davis, Jamie Doss, Bonny Askew, Randy Quick, Mark Cochran, and Sundai Stevenson. Mayor Pro Tem Craig McDaniel and Commissioner Jim Bojo voted against it.

Mayor Bill Collins led the charge to establish a mask mandate, though such a mandate has not been issued forGeorgia by Governor Brian Kemp. He said that taking this action may save lives and serve as an encouragement to many local youth that will have to wear masks when they return to school.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig McDaniel questioned enforceability and effectiveness of the mandate; he anticipates that it will be ‘an exercise in futility’.

The public spaces at which face masks are now required include restaurants, retail stores, salons, barber shops, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Masks will not be required in a personal vehicle, when one person is alone in an enclosed space or only with other household members, or by those engaged in outdoor physical activity (as long as active persons maintain a proper social distance). And people may take their masks off in restaurants to eat and drink.

Fines will be imposed upon those who do not comply with the order; they are $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense, and $100 for subsequent offenses.

A link to video and audio from Monday night’s City Commission meeting, as well as the entire Emergency Order, is posted on Facebook; look for the City of Rome, GA – Government page.

Face coverings will be among the topics of conversation this evening for the Floyd County Commission at their regular meeting, scheduled for 6 pm at the county’s Administration Building on East 4th Avenue in downtown Rome. The meeting will be preceded by a 4 pm caucus. Those in attendance are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.