Masks mandatory in Sparta, Hancock County starting Thursday

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SPARTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Face coverings are now required on public property within Sparta and Hancock County.

Sparta City Council and the Hancock County Commission approved an emergency joint ordinance in a called meeting Wednesday, according to Sparta mayor Allen Haywood.

Public property is defined in the ordinance as any real property owned, leased or occupied by the city or county.

Those who are eating or drinking, those who have difficulty wearing or removing a mask without assistance, those who have a bone fide religious objection to wearing a mask and those who have a bona fide medical reason to not wear a mask don’t have to wear one.

The ordinance will take effect Thursday, August 27 at 8 a.m.

Masks are not required in residential properties and polling places. When it comes to private property (including businesses) the mask ordinance is enforced if the owner or occupant of the property “consents to enforcement” and provides public notice of consent in a prominent location.

Those in violation will be subject to a maximum $50 fine but will be given a warning first.

If a non-compliant person is found in violation and cannot afford a mask, “a face covering shall be provided at the City’s expense,” the ordinance reads.

The ordinance expires either 30 days after it goes into effect or when the county falls below the governor’s executive order’s threshold requirement of less than 100 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks. As of Wednesday, the county had 269 cases per 100,000 people in the last two weeks.

Hancock County had 352 cumulative COVID-19 cases Wednesdaythe eighth most per 100,000 people in the state.

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