Public masks

Taylor “Cowboy” Sherer of Yellowhammer Roofing Inc., based in Athens, wears a mask at a restaurant on The Square before ordering food. Many businesses are encouraging customers to wear face coverings when practical.

Complications surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have extended into yet another month, and issues that seemed to be in the past have begun to resurface.

Many public buildings were closed down when coronavirus hit earlier this year, and with the number of cases both in Alabama and nationwide continuing to grow, public officials are once again having to make tough decisions in order to help slow the spread of the disease.

One such issue is whether or not individuals should be required to wear masks, and if such an ordinance is put in place, where it would apply.

Gov. Kay Ivey said during a news conference June 30 that she could require wearing masks in public, but such an order would be “nearly impossible to enforce.” This leaves the decision up to local governments.

A special-called meeting of the City Council has been set for 2 p.m. Thursday in Athens City Hall to discuss a possible mask ordinance and other procedures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I have talked over the issue with our city attorney (Shane Black) and Councilman Frank Travis," Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said before the meeting was announced. “I think we need to do that this week. We have had a spike in cases; they're not going down, though I know hospitalizations may be. It's a serious issue.”

Marks said he is coordinating with a local doctor in order to get an opinion from a member of the medical field as well.

Along with a potential mask requirement, Marks said he and the Council will discuss whether or not to once again close city-owned properties. He said things operated “pretty well” when the city-owned buildings were closed earlier this year and certain services were available online only.

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