Face covering mandate kicks off in Decatur

Face covering mandate kicks off in Decatur

DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - As the clock turned to 5 p.m. Monday, it became mandatory to wear a mask or face covering in public places in Decatur.

The city was the first municipality in north Alabama to pass a mask ordinance.

A few businesses already have signs up telling customers it’s now required to wear a mask in their store.

However, when walking up and down 2nd Street, which is full of retail stores, very few had signs warning customers.

Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen says it’s not up to his department or the city to make signs about mask requirements. He says that’s on the business owner.

“We recommend that business owners place signs up on their storefronts saying there’s a mask ordinance in place in the city of Decatur, and we ask they follow those rules,” said Allen.

Allen says businesses can be fined or even have their licensees revoked if they aren’t following the ordinance.

However, there are several measures in place for businesses and community members before police can penalize you.

“The first thing we’re going to do is education. We’ll educate you on where you can wear the mask, where you should we the mask, who should wear a mask and the exemptions to the mask ordinance as well. If it continues to go, we’ll give you a warning saying you need to have a mask on. From the warning, we’ll give you a citation,” Allen said.

That citation is a fine from $1 up to $500.

Allen and other community leaders say this ordinance isn’t a ploy to take away individual freedoms.

“Our goal right now is to protect and save lives and lower our numbers. This is uncharted and unprecedented times that we’re in. We’ve never been through this at all. Do we have all the right answers? No, we don’t,” he said.

Allen says if you're in a local busines and see someone not wearing a mask, do NOT call 9-1-1.

He recommends talking to the business owner first if you feel uncomfortable.

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