Mayor vetoes emergency ordinance regarding mask mandate

by | Jul 27, 2020 | Community News, News

On Monday, July 27, Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert vetoed the emergency ordinance requiring the use of face coverings in public. Below is the full text of the letter the Mayor sent to the Commission explaining the veto and reiterating the importance of people taking all preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks in public.

To all Macon-Bibb County Commissioners:

After receipt of numerous emails advocating for both sides of this legislation, and deliberate and protracted thought and reflection, it is with deep respect and commitment that I hereby VETO the Emergency Ordinance calling for masks to be mandated in public spaces, as passed by the Commission on July 21 st .

I truly believe we should do everything within our power to convince individuals to follow all preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, BUT I believe we have gone as far as we can, legally, to get people to wear their masks, practice socially distancing, avoiding large groups, and more. The Governor’s Executive Order sets out the state-wide requirements for reopening the economy, and specifically prohibits local governments from doing more or less than set forth in his Order, even declaring local Orders inconsistent with his Executive Order to be “unenforceable”. I respect the Governor’s authority.

The Governor’s Executive Order deputizes all Sheriffs across the state to help enforce his Executive Order. Therefore, a mandate to wear masks in public is not enforceable by our Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, and for those cities that have enacted similar ordinances, we read in the AJC today that no citations have been issued and the mandates are merely a statement. ( https://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-police-departments-report-zero-citations-for-face-mask-violations/ANLOOBZL5ZBSBOGNGAU7WUA2TQ/ )

As a local government, we have made the statement that people should wear a mask when in public and when around other people. The Governor continues to recommend that all individuals wear masks as appropriate. We must make sure people are aware of that, and I applaud you as a Commission for all agreeing that this is a serious issue and people should follow all the CDC guidelines. I have signed the Ordinance that you adopted to appropriate $700,000 for advertisements to inform, advocate, and implore individuals to follow ALL of the CDC Protocol measures. Also, I personally request that all citizens going into public spaces, where they are unable to socially distance themselves from members of the general public, to wear a mask, not so much for themselves, but to avoid the transmission to others by unknowingly contagious individuals.

I also want to remind private property owners that they are already empowered to make and enforce reasonable conditions for entry into their private property, and we have seen responsible grocery and retail establishments require masks of all customers seeking admittance. We cannot mandate the same for all public spaces.

I am again asking private businesses and organizations to take all appropriate measures, that will reduce the spread of COVID-19. I hope and pray that we can move beyond this debate about an unenforceable law and get to where the only thing we say is, “Wearing a mask, and following ALL CDC protocol is important to your health and the health of our community.” That’s the message that we need to send people, not an unenforceable mandate to do the same.

                                                                       Respectfully,

                                                                       Robert A.B. Reichert

                                                                       Mayor

Recent News

Commissioner Paul Bronson to host District 2 Community Forums

Commissioner Paul Bronson to host District 2 Community Forums

Commissioner Paul Bronson is hosting a series of town hall forums to meet with and hear from members of our community. There are four locations and dates so people all over District 2 will have the opportunity to come and hear from their Commission Representative, and...

Bringing awareness to motorcycle safety

Bringing awareness to motorcycle safety

Mayor Lester Miller is hoping to bring awareness to motorcycle safety by proclaiming May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. A group of motorcyclists were presented with the proclamation on Tuesday, May 17.  The Central Ga Association of Motorcycles (CAM) is...

Mayor proclaims May as National Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

Mayor proclaims May as National Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

On Tuesday, May 17, during the Commission Meeting, Mayor Lester Miller presented a proclamation for National Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.    The first ten days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history...

Trauma survivors reunite with their heroes

Trauma survivors reunite with their heroes

May is known as Trauma Awareness Month and on Wednesday, May 18, we celebrated Trauma Survivors Day. Atrium Health Navicent and the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department came together to create a special moment for two trauma survivors.   Members in our community,...

Honoring and remembering our fallen heroes

Honoring and remembering our fallen heroes

On Friday, May 20, dozens of people gathered in Public Safety Memorial Park to honor 34 fallen officers during the annual Peace Officers Memorial Day Ceremony.  The event happens on the Friday of National Police Week every year, and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office,...

Picnic in the Park draws hundreds to Downtown Macon

Picnic in the Park draws hundreds to Downtown Macon

The Recreation Department’s first Picnic in the Park was a success over the weekend! Seven food trucks parked at Carolyn Crayton Park on Saturday, May 14 for people in our community to enjoy.  Kona Ice and Jail Creek Farms Winery were also available to park goers. The...

Appreciating our Public Works crews

Appreciating our Public Works crews

May 15 through the 21 is known as Public Works Week across the country. In order to celebrate our incredible crews in Macon-Bibb, the department held a luncheon for all our Public Works workers.  “I just want to say thank you to all of my team that put in so much hard...

Construction begins on new Fire Training Facility

Construction begins on new Fire Training Facility

Crews have officially begun working on the brand-new state-of-the-art fire training station on Tinker Drive. The Fire Department, Mayor, construction crews, and local leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking to kick things off on Thursday, May 19.    “We weren’t lying...

Selfies for Safety: Shelter in Place drill coming up May 25

Selfies for Safety: Shelter in Place drill coming up May 25

Get your best selfie face ready - the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency is encouraging everyone to snap and share a picture of your hurricane and storm preparations during this year’s Shelter in Place Drill. At 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25, you’ll hear...