COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As of Thursday, enforcement of the mask mandate in Columbus is no more.
But Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson said the ordinance is staying on the books.
Henderson said the governor allowed city-wide mask mandates only if certain requirements were met. Now that Columbus' numbers are low enough, Henderson said it’s time to stop the enforcement. However he said that does not mean people should stop wearing their masks.
“Well, I think it’s a personal decision, but anybody with any brains will wear a mask," one Columbus woman said.
Two months after signing an executive order mandating masks in public areas, Henderson said it’s time to stop enforcement.
“So, we’re not going to do away with the ordinance. We’re simply following the governor’s order in discontinuing the enforcement until the numbers hit 100 again. Then we’ll immediately begin enforcement," Henderson said.
The threshold required by the governor to have a mask mandate is having more than 100 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over a two week period. The first day Columbus hit the mark was October 9. As of October 19, there were only 72 new cases per 100,000 over two weeks. With the trends showing a declining number of new cases in Columbus, Henderson believes the mask mandate did it’s job.
“In my mind, I’m absolutely positive it had a positive impact," Henderson said.
Henderson said just because the ordinance is not being enforced, it does not mean people should just stop wearing their mask. He said the proof is in the pudding. Wearing a mask slows down the numbers.
One Columbus resident said he has mixed feelings about lifting the enforcement.
“I don’t think it is wise, the man said. “I think the enforcement of the mask mandate is part of the reason why we have low cases and I think we should continue until we at least find some sort of solution, maybe a vaccine.”
The mayor said he does not believe any citations were actually given out in the two-month span the mandate was enforced. He said this ordinance is really education based.
Despite suspending enforcement of the mask mandate city wide., anyone working in or visiting any city building, including the government center, police department, or even animal control has to wear a mask.