Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Is Wearing Masks Required or Not in Atlanta and Its Airport?

You find yourself on an itinerary in which Atlanta is included as your origination, destination, or transfer from one airplane to another on the way to your final destination. While you are in the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, are you required to wear a mask or cloth face covering?

Is Wearing Masks Required or Not in Atlanta and Its Airport?

The answer depends on to whom you listen.

Keisha Lance Bottoms — who is the current mayor of the city of Atlanta — issued Executive Order 2020-113 on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, which requires all persons to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their noses and mouths within the city in response to the rising number of infections caused by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. The executive order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 persons on city of Atlanta property.

“The Order calls for all persons within the territorial jurisdiction of the city of Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, to wear a mask or a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth”, according to this press release at the official Internet web site of the city of Atlanta. “The Order also extends to individuals inside commercial entities or other buildings or spaces open to the public, outdoor public spaces–wherever it is not feasible to maintain appropriate social distancing from another person not in the same household.”

The requirement to wear a mask or cloth face covering will not apply to any person:

  • Younger than ten years of age
  • With a medical condition or disability that prevents the wearing of a mask or face covering;
  • While the person is consuming food or drink, or is smoking
  • While the person is in a personal motor vehicle
  • Obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the mask or face covering for security surveillance, screening, or a need for specific access to the face, such as while visiting a bank or while obtaining a personal care service involving the face or head, but only to the extent necessary for the temporary removal
  • While the person is in a swimming pool
  • Who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election
  • While the person is speaking for broadcast or to an audience

Not So Fast, According to the Governor of the State of Georgia

“Atlanta Mayor @KeishaBottoms action today is merely guidance — both non-binding and legally unenforceable”, according to this message which was posted at the official Twitter account of Brian Kemp, who is the current governor of the state of Georgia. “As clearly stated in my executive orders, no local action can be more or less restrictive, and that rule applies statewide.”

Kemp continued in the second of three of those messages on Twitter, “If the Mayor actually wants to flatten the curve in Atlanta, she should start enforcing state restrictions, which she has failed to do.

He asked that “citizens and businesses alike to comply with the terms of Executive Order, which was crafted in conjunction with state public health officials. These common-sense measures will help protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.

Both Keisha Lance Bottoms and Brian Kemp refer to Executive Order of the state of Georgia.


Nowhere in the aforementioned official executive order for the city of Atlanta is the consequences for violating it specifically stated. Does a person who is accused of disobeying the executive order face a citation, a fine, arrest, or some other punitive action?

Regardless, the executive order issued by Brian Kemp technically overrides the executive order issued by Keisha Lance Bottoms — and I suspect that if someone who is transiting through the international airport in Atlanta from one flight to another is caught without a mask or cloth covering on his or her face, that person will likely be given a warning by law enforcement officers…

…but what will happen to that person if he or she defiantly disobeys orders and continues to refuse to wear a mask or cloth covering on his or her face?

Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

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