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What to Know About Hamilton County’s Facemask Mandate

On Monday, July 6th, the Hamilton County Health Department issued a directive mandating the use of face coverings or face masks throughout the entire county, with some exceptions. This directive was issued under the authority of Governor Bill Lee’s executive order 54, which continued the state of emergency, and gave county mayors and local Health Departments, like ours, the power to issue local mask requirements. The directive states that “all persons in Hamilton County shall wear a facial covering or mask which covers the mouth and nose at all times when indoors in all public and private buildings and when outdoors except under the following exceptions":

Exceptions

The mandate includes many exceptions that you might reasonably expect. Those include, but are not limited to:

  • People in their private residences and homes
  • People in vehicles, provided that all people in the vehicle are family or are living together

  • People who are outside or working in conditions in which they can maintain social distancing

  • People exercising

  • Children under the age of 12

  • People who can provide documented medical problems that require the lack of a face covering

  • People sitting down to eat or drink at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc.

  • Places and events such as places of worship, wedding and funerals held on private property, active voting sites, and property owned

Penalties

Businesses who fail to adhere to the requirements of the directive, in regards to both their employees and/or customers, could be subjected to both civil citations and criminal sanctions at the Health Department’s discretion. Individuals who fail to meet the requirements of the directive are also liable to civil citations by the Health Department, but could also be held criminally responsible, face a Class C misdemeanor, and receive up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $50 fine.

In an article published by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, found here, Sheriff Jim Hammond alludes that the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office will try and stick to warnings and reminders whenever possible, as opposed to pressing charges for every violation of the new mandate. At the moment, there has not been an official statement from the District Attorney’s office concerning their intentions with prosecution in the case that charges are filed against a violator.

This directive will go into effect starting Friday, July 10th and remain in effect until Tuesday, September 8th.

For more detail about Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 54, you can find it here, on the Secretary of State’s website.

For more detail about the Hamilton County Health Department’s mandate, you can find the full text here, on their website.

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