Decatur council repeals mask ordinance

Bayne Hughes, The Decatur Daily, Ala.
·2 min read

Apr. 8—The Decatur City Council on Wednesday repealed a mask ordinance that had been aimed at preventing transmission of the coronavirus, a move that will end all mask restrictions when the state's mask mandate expires Friday.

The council voted 4-1 in a called meeting Wednesday afternoon to end the mask ordinance. No members of the public attended the meeting.

Decatur passed the ordinance mandating masks in July after a weeklong debate over the issue that included protesters opposed to the ordinance showing up at City Hall. At the time, Mayor Tab Bowling delayed signing the ordinance until changes were made that only authorized police to issue a warning, not impose a fine, for the first offense.

Gov. Kay Ivey issued an emergency order requiring masks or face coverings in public less than a week later.

The ordinance did not expressly exclude schools from the mask mandate. Decatur City Schools has required masks, however, and has said that requirement will continue despite the end of the state and city mandates.

Councilman Carlton McMasters on Wednesday said a number of his District 3 constituents told him "they feel like it's time to let (the ordinance) expire with Gov. Ivey's order."

McMasters said, "I've had COVID and I don't want it again," and he will continue wearing his mask. However, he said his doctor told him Monday when he got an antibodies test that, with a vaccine shot, he won't need a mask any longer.

"I've said from Day 1 that I will continue to wear a mask until I know I'm not at risk to others, mandate or not," he said.

Councilman Kyle Pike said he "feels like it's time to end the requirement to wear masks and allow for personal responsibility."

Councilman Hunter Pepper has been vocal that he doesn't like masks and he thinks it's government overreach to require them. He said Wednesday he thinks the previous council was wrong in passing the ordinance "just as it's wrong to require seat belts."

Billy Jackson was the only councilman to vote against repealing the ordinance. He said a friend of his died last weekend and it's not time yet to end the requirement.

"With the rate people are getting vaccinated, I don't think it would hurt to wait another month or two" before ending the mask mandate, Jackson said.

bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.