TIFTON- Tifton City Council has extended the citywide mask mandate Tuesday night during the January regular session.
The mandate extension passed with a 3-2 vote.
The original mask mandate was set to expire Jan. 21. The mandate comes with no punishment for being stopped without a mask beyond a formal warning.
The extension vote split the same as the original mandate vote. Again, Councilmen Jack Folk, Johnny Terrell and M. Jay Hall were in favor of a mask mandate. Folk motioned for the extension of the mandate and Terrell seconded that motion.
Folk was the leading voice in favor of the mask mandate. He said he wants to find a way to stimulate the economy by making it safe for residents to go shopping and supporting local businesses. Folk felt that not extending the mandate would hurt the local economy.
"When you wear a mask, you are saying 'I respect my neighbors,'" Folk said. When you wear a mask, you are saying 'I respect nurses and doctors.' When you wear a mask, you are saying 'I respect other people.'
"Yes, people have rights, but more importantly they have responsibilities," Folk said. "Unfortunately people don't always do the right thing."
Mayor Julie Smith and Vice Mayor Wes Ehlers were the nay votes to extending the mask mandate.
Ehlers was clear, his nay vote does not signify that he disbelieves the effectiveness of masks. He stated the reason he cannot support a mask mandate is because he doesn't feel like local government should be making these types of decisions by forcing residents to wear masks.