Shelby County commissioners pass resolution for health department to require facial coverings

Shelby County Commission resolution urges health officials to require masks

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - The vote was not unanimous, but the Shelby County Commission has spoken.

Commissioners passed a resolution in an 8-5 vote to urge health officials to require cloth facial coverings, however, what was passed Monday night was a much more watered-down version of what Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer initially wanted.

"I did not think this would stir up so much anger and vitriol,” said Sawyer.

Sawyer says she got a lot of backlash over a proposed ordinance she presented last week requiring cloth face coverings to be worn in public and business owners facing a $50 fine for not complying.

Monday she made some changes.

Commissioner proposes ordinance requiring Shelby County business owners to make customers wear masks

Her ordinance is now a resolution and that $50 penalty has gone away.

However, the resolution is still urging the Shelby County health officer to require residents and visitors to wear a face-covering when in public and unable to social distance.

"One of the things that I continued to hear about the ordinance was that it was anti-business or anti-small business when in fact behind the ordinance now the resolution was to ensure that once we open we were able to stay open,” said Sawyer.

Commissioner Mark Billingsley thinks wearing a mask will help to flatten the COVID-19 curve, but disagreed with requiring people to wear a mask.

The resolution does provide some exceptions: As long as you socially distance while exercising outside or dining inside you wouldn’t have to wear a mask

Residents under the age of two also would not have to wear a mask.

Currently the Shelby County Health Department recommends wearing a face mask, but they don’t require it.

Shelby County Health Director Alicia Haushalter said in the meeting she would discuss updating their directive to make covering up a requirement.

The new resolution also encourages Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris to launch “The Healthy Shelby Business Initiative”.

The initiative would encourage businesses to display their face coverings protocol and create a safe working environment.

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