Mask mandate now in effect in Homerville
By Tanya B. O’Berry
Homerville has a mandated mask ordinance unanimously passed by its city council in a called meeting Monday night.
Councilman Len Robbins said the mandate has become a necessity to protect people of the community from further spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We don’t have a choice but to do something,” he said. “This (number of cases) has gotten worse in the past two weeks. We have 59 active cases and have had 333 overall since the pandemic began. When we first started considering a mask ordinance, that number was 170.”
City Attorney Jeff Helms explained the ordinance, saying from a legal standpoint, it would be much like a traffic citation, with offenders receiving a warning, then a ticket for non-compliance.
“The enforcement may be difficult, but only the most egregious circumstances where (lack of masks) is intentionally flaunted,”
he said. “It will be up to the police to enforce it, and the Municipal Court to hear and decide on any disputes of the charges.”
The ordinance, drafted by the Georgia Municipal Association and adopted by other cities, has been amended to allow manufacturing, sawmills and the timber industry to set their own policies. The Industrial Park is located within the city limits, where most of these types of businesses are located. Helms also said business owners would not be cited for retail customers not masking up.
“There are ways to exempt out if you really wanted to do so,” he said. “We may not have 100 percent or even 50 percent participation, but across the bar, I think most people will comply.”
Councilman Elexis Williams believes most people are prepared to follow the new ordinance.
“People ask me when we have to start wearing masks, so it’s not like they have a problem with it,” Williams said.
The ordinance went into effect immediately. A copy of the ordinance can be found below.
In other business, Mayor Pro Tem Willie Hardee, Councilmen James McBride, Williams and Robbins heard:
• City Manager Nan Mikell said the Historic Depot will be closed until January for necessary renovations to the structure.
“The Main Street board decided the repairs to the floor, ceiling in the kitchen and doors, are needed,” she said.
“We have a few rentals, but we will refund their money and have a grand re-opening in January.”
• The Pine Forest Cemetery sign next to Slash Pine EMC has been knocked down for the second time and will need to be possibly moved to prevent further damage. Also, citizens have asked for leaves in the cemetery to be removed from the bases of trees to prevent those from being scattered again.
• Mikell said all city buildings and property have been marked with signs stating the city cannot be held responsible if a person contracts COVID-19 on the premises.